Our top stories for 2014:
10. Sheffield Police: As bad as Russellville? Not yet.
9. Angel Gieske finally arrested, but DHR marches on.
8. Lauderdale Sheriff candidate attempts to redefine family values.
7. Colbert County School Superintendent a law unto himself.
6, Heroin rears its ugly head in Shoals.
5. Mucho disgruntled citizens in Muscle Shoals.
4. UNA problems: No show Chinese benefactors, Football favoritism, Fatophobia.
3. Who knew tourism was so cut-throat?
2. Muscle Shoals High needs real leadership.
1. Three local youth ministers arrested on sex charges.
Honorable mention: Anyone whose mugshots are so numerous you feel like you're looking at old friends every time you see them.
It was a stormy Monday afternoon, exactly three years after the worst tornadoes the South had ever seen. In the days before NOAH radio, almost everyone had their radio or television on to check weather updates. Jack Worley's voice suddenly interrupted WOWL programming while a static image proclaimed a bulletin.
There was a confirmed plane crash just outside Atlanta. The plane had left Huntsville less than an hour before. What wasn't confirmed was the speculation that it was the same plane that had originated in Muscle Shoals carrying nine passengers. Almost everyone knew a neighbor, friend, or family member who regularly took this commuter flight. Just who was on board that day?
In an era before cell phones, all landlines were in use. Very few could get a line out to call anyone, even if they knew whom to call. Some minutes later it was confirmed that it was indeed the Muscle Shoals flight that had crashed. Only one of the Muscle Shoals passengers survived. A wife who managed to get through to the hospital where her husband was taken was told not to travel in the dubious weather; her husband would be dead before she arrived.
The following video tells the story; while a little technical in the middle, the end is very moving. Earl Johnson, a victim mentioned in the memorial ceremony, was a brother to Jimmy Johnson of Muscle Shoals Sound.
Why focus on this today? Ironically, one of our top ten stories of 2014 is quite probably a direct result of this crash. We'll have more next year!