MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Taking a look back at some of South Florida’s top local stories of 2019, some were heartbreaking, others happy, and all had a major impact on our community.
2019 started off with a new governor. Ron DeSantis took to the office with major reforms on the environment and education spending. His approval ratings are among the highest numbers a Florida Governor has ever seen.
Just days after his inauguration Governor Desantis suspended Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel. He blamed Israel’s leadership for the massacre that had happened in Parkland at Majorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Israel, who lost his appeals, is running for Broward Sheriff in 2020.
“God doesn’t like quitters. I have no intention of quitting. And I have every intention of winning and I plan on being sheriff,” said Israel.
The Broward Sheriff Office continued to make headlines in 2019 as deputies were caught on camera with questionable actions. First a body-slamming incident in Tamarac. And then another incident captured on camera when a deputy punched a man handcuffed to a hospital bed. The deputies in both incidents were fired.
“We will not turn a blind eye and act as though we did not know,” said Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony during a news conference.
Marjorie Stoneman Douglas suffered more heartache in 2019. Two students, survivors of the school shooting, committed suicide.
The world watched the death of UPS driver Frank Ordonez. The father of two was kidnapped as robbers fled the police. The chased ended tragically in a shootout during rush hour in Miramar. Bystander Richard Cutshaw was killed as well in the crossfire.
This year the National Transportation Safety Board released its final report on the bridge collapse at Florida International University. The construction firms found at fault for failing to act once cracks appeared on the pedestrian bridge.
The Miami Dolphins got a new coach this year but the team actually did worse. The Dolphins lost their defensive tackle Kendrick Norton when he crashed on the State Road 826 and ended up losing his arm.
Another UM standout and former Miami Dolphin, Mark Walton, made headlines too. He was arrested for allegedly attacking his pregnant girlfriend.
Staying in the theme of football, well sort of, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was rounded up in a sex prostitution sting. Police allege days before the Super Bowl, the billionaire visited a Jupiter massage parlor for sex. Kraft continues to deny the charges while fighting to keep hidden video of the transaction from going public.
Long-time President Trump associate Roger Stone was arrested in January during an early morning raid at his Fort Lauderdale home. Stone was found guilty of seven charges including making false statements to Congress and witness tampering. He is looking at up to 50 years in prison. Sentencing is set for February 2020.
Meanwhile, the President decided to make the move to Florida official. After adopting Florida residency, he held a homecoming party at the BB&T Center and promised 20-20 will be his year.
“The crazy Democrats are going down in a landslide. And that landslide is going to start right here in the great state of Florida,” he proclaimed at the rally.
In 2019 we lost some notable names including Seymour Gelber, the father of Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber, served in the army, was a transformational judge, and was three-term mayor.
Miami Dolphin’s legend Nick Buoniconti passed away after suffering from dementia. Many suspected it was connected to his play in the NFL.
2019 was also the year that Dwayne Wade said farewell to the NBA. The three-time NBA champion helped transform the Miami Heat franchise.
And what would the year recap be without a look at the hurricane season that was unique. Most notable Hurricane Dorian. The catastrophic category five storm came right at Florida and at the last second stalled over the Bahamas. The Abacos and Grand Bahama Island were devastated. Florida was spared and stepped up to help our neighbors.