Top online stories for 2018: A year of heartbreak and humor for Herald readers
Like in previous years, no story was able to compete with warm breadsticks and comforting chicken alfredo, but one came close this year.
Grand Forks Herald Columnist Marilyn Hagerty’s viral 2012 Olive Garden review received the most clicks in 2018 despite celebrating a sixth birthday. Over 127,000 people read the column this year. After Hagerty’s upbeat review of the chain restaurant went viral, she was interviewed by Anderson Cooper, Good Morning America, CNN, The Today Show, CNN and more.
The story of a Fargo man who mistakenly ran a full marathon instead of a half marathon garnered the most attention for a story written this year. Mike Kohler’s sleepy misstep drew laughs and admiration from more than 125,000 readers. The 26-year-old plumber said he was tired and blasting music in his headphones when he lined up for the start of the Fargo marathon. What he didn’t realize was that he’d lined up for the full marathon instead of the half. Kohler ran it anyway, surprising himself that he was able to finish.
The second most-read story revealed a family of four had been found dead after mysteriously disappearing in Montana. Chelsi Kay Dean, husband Anthony and children Kaytlin and Avri were driving from a relative’s home in Caldwell, Idaho, to Ekalaka, Mont., when they went missing. Their car was discovered in a creek off the road about 13 miles east of Billings. Police suspect the vehicle veered from the road and crashed into a median before flying off an embankment, where it hit a bridge support and came to rest in the creek. The story received about 63,000 pageviews.
The third most-read article reflects on the death of three children at the hands of their mother, who also turned the gun on herself. Astra Volk shot her children, 6-year-old Arianna, 10-year-old Aidan and 14-year-old Tyler Talmage, in their home this April before killing herself. Volk had reached out on GoFundMe for financial assistance to help with medical bills and said she and her two sons suffered from mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder, manic depression and autism. Volk had recently moved to the neighborhood. Even those who didn’t know the family well said they were shocked by the tragedy in a town so seemingly safe. Nearly 44,000 people clicked onto the story.
Another tragic story follows as the fourth most-read story -- autopsy details from an officer-involved shooting in Devils Lake. Daniel Fuller, 26, was unarmed and chased by two plainclothes officers after it was suspected he had burglarized a mobile home in July. The autopsy declared Fuller was shot in the back of the head and ruled the cause of death a homicide. The officer, Detective Brandon Potts, was not charged, with the Ramsey County State’s Attorney Office ruling he was justified in his use of force. Fuller’s family has called for further investigation from the FBI and plans to file a lawsuit against the city. The story garnered about 27,000 pageviews.
A lawsuit filed by women formerly of the UND hockey team garnered the year’s fifth most-clicked story as the players fought to reassemble their team. The UND women’s hockey program was cut by the school in 2017 for financial reasons. The lawsuit, which was brought by 11 former players, alleged UND violated Title IX, which requires schools to effectively accommodate student interests and abilities. There were about 26,000 clicks on the story.
Readers also heavily clicked on a story about a deadly crash downtown. A man fleeing police crashed into a tree at speeds over 100 mph near Belmont Road in August. He was thrown from from the vehicle, and the crash tore the car in half, scattering debris nearly a block wide.
The Lamoureux twins scored big in the Olympics and also in readers’ hearts. Nearly 24,000 readers clicked on the story of their dramatic win against Canada, giving the article seventh place on the list. One of the Grand Forks sisters scored a game-tying goal late in the third period, which subsequently sent the game into overtime. The other twin scored a sudden-death shootout goal, leading the team to a one-point victory over Canada. The sisters brought Olympic gold medals to North Dakota and were the first born and raised in the state to do so.
Readers clicked in droves on an article describing a rare rodent-related illness that killed one northeast North Dakota woman. The woman fell ill in August and died as a result of Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome, which is spread by infected rodent droppings, urine and saliva. Only 16 cases have been reported during the last 25 years, though half were fatal. The story received about 23,000 clicks for eighth place.
The only thing that could’ve made UND hockey’s Vegas victory over the University of Minnesota more exciting was free beer. And that’s exactly what several former players gave fans. T.J. Oshie and other former teammates purchased 300 beers for fans who trekked to Vegas to watch the game. The story came in ninth place for clicks during the year. Nearly 22,000 readers read the story.
An officer-involved shooting clung to the last spot on the top most-read list with nearly 21,000 views. In June, two Grand Forks police officers shot and killed a man they said they thought would have otherwise killed a woman. No charges were filed against either officer, and the Grand Forks County State’s Attorney’s Office later said police used reasonable force to stop what they believed was a valid threat.Most-read stories of 2018
- Man mistakenly runs full Fargo marathon instead of half. 125,379 pageviews
- Missing Grand Forks family found dead after car crash in Montana. 63,363 pvs.
- Family's deaths a grim discovery for 'quiet' street. 43,742 pvs.
- Autopsy: Devils Lake man killed in officer-involved shooting was shot in the back of the head. 27,223 pvs.
- Former women’s hockey players file discrimination suit. 26,307 pvs.
- Driver killed in violent crash in downtown Grand Forks.
- The golden girls: Lamoureux sisters give U.S. Olympic gold with dramatic goals. 23,945 pvs.
- North Dakota woman dies after rare rodent-related illness. 22,696 pvs.
- T.J. Oshie and former UND players purchase hundreds of beers for fans in Vegas. 21,703 pvs
- One dead in officer-involved shooting in Grand Forks. 20,879
Of note: Marilyn Hagerty’s 2012 review of Olive Garden still topped the list with more than 127,000 pageviews this year. After almost seven year, people still love reading about warm breadsticks.