PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – It’s hard to believe, but 2019 is nearly over.
Before we turn the calendar to 2020 and start a new decade, let’s take a look back at the five biggest stories in Pittsburgh over the past year.
Steelers Country came to Kennywood in July with the opening of the park’s newest, record-breaking thrill ride! The Steel Curtain set a world record for the highest inversion at 197 feet, and a record in North America for the most inversions – nine of them. It’s also the tallest roller coaster in the state, and tops out at speeds of 75 miles an hour.
The opening didn’t come without some starts and stops though. The coaster was shut down several times for “technical difficulties” and service work.
But, by the end of the season, the attraction was voted best new ride of the year at the Golden Ticket Awards in September.
FULL STORY: Roller Coaster Enthusiasts, Steelers’ Fans Take Inaugural Ride On Kennywood’s The Steel Curtain (July 12, 2018)
The highly emotional trial of former East Pittsburgh Police officer Michael Rosfeld ended in a not guilty verdict in March. The verdict sparked a fresh wave of protests across the city in support of Antwon Rose II and the teen’s family.
The fact that Rosfeld shot and killed Rose was not in dispute during the trial; instead, the jury was charged with deciding if the shooting was justified.
Rose was killed in the summer of 2018 after Officer Rosfeld pulled over an unlicensed taxicab suspected to have been involved in a drive-by shooting minutes earlier.
The jury ended up voting unanimously, not guilty on all four counts.
FULL STORY: Former East Pittsburgh Police Officer Michael Rosfeld Found Not Guilty In Antwon Rose Shooting (March 22, 2019)
The death of 2-year-old Nalani Johnson took a devastating toll on the Western Pennsylvania community in the late summer months. The toddler was kidnapped on Aug. 31 in Penn Hills and found dead on Sept. 3 in Pine Ridge Park in Indiana County.
Sharena Nancy, 25, is facing criminal homicide, abuse of a corpse, kidnapping and other serious charges in Nalani’s death.
Investigators said Nalani’s father and Nancy were beginning a romantic relationship, and had argued just before the girl disappeared.
The coroner’s report said it was “homicidal violence” that killed the little girl. Investigators also said they found “small scrapes (and) abrasions” on both sides of her face. An unidentified “yellowish substance” was found in Nalani’s stomach.
FULL STORY: Police Confirm Nalani Johnson Found Dead In Blairsville (Sept. 13, 2019)
From the Steelers to the Raiders to the Patriots, wide receiver Antonio Brown has had quite the tumultuous year both on and off the field.
Brown was cut a few weeks after signing with the New England Patriots in September when his former trainer filed a federal lawsuit in Florida, accusing him of rape and sexual assault. Brown and his representatives deny the allegations, and no criminal charges have been filed, but he is under investigation by the NFL.
A Monroeville doctor also sued Brown in September, claiming Brown repeatedly farted in his face during a consultation and owes him $11,500 in unpaid fees.
The wide receiver faced several other lawsuits in 2019 that will continue into the new year, as well as backlash when an extensive Sports Illustrated article was published that included additional allegations of attempted sexual assault.
By the end of the year, Brown ended up being the “Most Searched Person, Athlete ” on Twitter and one of the top Google searches of the year.
FULL STORY: Pittsburgh Steelers Trading WR Antonio Brown To Oakland Raiders (March 10, 2019)
The Pittsburgh story that went viral around the world!
During the morning commute on Oct. 28, the ground opened up underneath downtown Pittsburgh and swallowed up the back half of a Port Authority bus.
Thankfully, there were no serious injuries, but the G31 Bridgeville Flyer was sticking out of the 20-feet deep hole all day until large cranes could be brought in to lift it out.
Repairs to the enormous hole, located at Penn Avenue and 10th Street near the Westin Hotel, are expected to continue well into 2020.
FULL STORY: Sinkhole Swallows Port Authority Bus On Busy Street In Downtown Pittsburgh (Oct. 28, 2019)
HONORABLE NEWS MENTIONS
Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner and her husband Khari Mosley were arrested and detained at a Detroit hotel in March.
In April, Mayor Bill Peduto signed into law a set of gun bills that sparked much controversy among gun rights advocates and those in favor of gun control in the City of Pittsburgh and across Western Pennsylvania.
A decade marked by bad blood and finger-pointing suddenly came to an end when UPMC and Highmark made peace in June. The 11th hour agreement made possible healthcare access across the board.
Family, friends and fellow law enforcement officers said an emotional final goodbye in July to fallen Pittsburgh Police Officer Calvin Hall, who was shot while off-duty.
A jury found Rahmael Holt, the man accused of fatally shooting New Kensington Police Officer Brian Shaw in 2017, guilty on all counts.
A man who was admitted to the United States as a refugee from Syria was arrested on terrorism charges in June after he allegedly was planning to attack the Legacy International Worship Center on the North Side.
West Mifflin Police charged a young woman with with criminal mischief, open lewdness, disorderly conduct and public drunkenness in July after the bizarre and disgusting act in a local Walmart.
Pittsburgh Police and animal control officers were called to the city’s Beechview neighborhood on an early June evening to subdue a wayward alligator, known as Chomp.
HONORABLE SPORTS MENTIONS
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger underwent elbow surgery in September, and missed the entire 2019 season.
Cleveland Browns defensive lineman Myles Garrett ripped the helmet off Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and clunked him over the head with it. The incident at the end of the Nov. 15 showdown fired up both fanbases.
Major front office changes for the Pittsburgh Pirates started with the firing of manager Clint Hurdle at the end of September. He would later announce his retirement from baseball.
Sidney Crosby underwent a successful core muscle injury repair in November. He continues to recover into the new year.