A year in review: The top stories from 2013

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texas News has compiled a list of the top stories from each month in 2013, based on their page view totals.

January: Deputies with the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office and the Texas Rangers investigated an officer-involved shooting in Alto which left a man dead along the side of U.S. Highway 69 on Jan. 23.

The incident occurred after the man, who was later identified as James Griffin, attempted to rob the town's Pick N Go convenience store with a machete. Griffin was shot multiple times after he refused to put the machete down.

February: A 55-year-old Huntington man was found dead in his pickup on the side of U.S. Highway 69 just outside of Lufkin on Feb. 5. Larry Meadors' former employer, David Kelley, said the man had been in and out of the hospital with pneumonia and had high blood pressure.

Kelley said he saw his former co-worker's truck veering to the side of the road and scraping a nearby guard rail. When Kelley stopped to see what had happened, Meadors was not responsive and looked dead. He called 911 and used a hammer to break the pickup's window.

March:  Hoping to draw attention to the plight of the estimated 27 million people trapped inside labor and sex trafficking, members of Stephen F. Austin State University's End It Movement stood in front of the Baker Patillo Student Center, starting on March 5.

As part of the effort, the students stood, cheered, yelled, and advocated for the people worldwide who cannot speak for themselves. Pictures of people of all ages who have been forced into slavery lined the walls of a nearby tent.

April: A driver who claimed he had the devil trapped in the bed of his truck, led Trinity Police officers on a merry chase that wound up in Walker County.

Police Chief Steve Jones said the family of the man, Norman Damon Foley, 36, of Trinity, reported he had been acting strange. Officer Donald Givens reported seeing driving erratic and speeding. He attempted to stop Foley and Foley led a chase with speeds topping at 92 miles per hour.

May: Tragedy struck in mid-May. A three-vehicle wreck on North Temple Drive in Diboll resulted in the deaths of two women. One of the women was pregnant.

The pregnant woman was a driver in one of the cars, and the second woman died a short time later at a Lufkin hospital. The wreck involved two cars and an 18-wheeler.

The truck driver, Policarpio Galvan, said he was driving northbound when the two cars hit each other. He said a Honda Accord spun out in front of him and he could not do anything but hit them, crushing the Accord.

June: Texas Department of Public safety troopers and Texas Rangers investigated a case in which a 37-year-old Lufkin woman got into an auto accident in Nacogdoches, jumped a guard rail with her 6-year-old daughter, and tried to drown the little girl in a creek on June 8.

According to the arrest affidavit, a DPS trooper responded to a wreck near the intersection of FM 1878 and County Road 228 Saturday. Trooper David Hendry, a DPS spokesman, said Shari Kamile Brandon struck and injured a motorist on a dirt bike.

After the crash, Brandon took her daughter out of her child safety seat, and gave what the little girl described to authorities as a "piggy back ride" to the creek near the crash scene. While Brandon and her daughter were in the creek bed, she allegedly tried to drown her daughter by pushing her head under the water.

July: On July 23, the Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office executed search warrants at two separate homes. As a result of those search warrants, they made three arrests and seized marijuana, cocaine, meth, codeine, cash, and guns.

Sheriff Jason Bridges said the first search warrant was executed in the 2100 block of Banita Street around 7:30 a.m. Bridges said the suspect at that location tried to run from officers and destroy evidence and fought with deputies, but deputies were able to handcuff him. Bridges said a search yielded a quarter-pound of marijuana, scales and other drug paraphernalia.

Deputies served a second search warrant around 10:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Cleaver Street and found nine large crack cocaine cookies, eight grams of meth, 240 grams of codeine and two loaded handguns.

August: The Nacogdoches County Sheriff's Office conducted an internal investigation after an officer-involved shooting on State Highway 103 that left 46-year-old Kevin Koonce dead.

Deputies were on their way to serve a "high risk" warrant on Kevin Koonce, of Etoile, at his residence, according to Sheriff Jason Bridges when the shootout occurred on the second bridge on Lake Sam Rayburn, heading east on State Highway 103.

After an NCS deputy pulled Koonce over, the man immediately jumped out of his truck and started shooting at the deputy, Bridges said, hitting his patrol vehicle at least three times. Koonce was shot when the deputy returned fire.

September: Texas Game Wardens have arrested Michael Shane McCloud of Florida (formerly of Bryan-College Station) for theft related to a fishing tournament.

Following his arrest, the 44-year-old McCloud was booked into the Jasper County Jail. No bond has been set.

The investigation that culminated in his arrest began in June 2012 after authorities received numerous complaints related to fishing tournament prize payouts that allegedly did not occur. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Game Wardens and investigators with other law enforcement agencies spent more than a year looking into the practices and methods McCloud used to promote a bass tournament on Lake Sam Rayburn in June 2012.

October: Following the 36th Annual Texas T Party, which was held in Lufkin, two people were seriously injured when an antique Model T Ford was involved in a two-vehicle accident on U.S. Highway 69 just south of Wells on Oct. 3.

Two people, a man and woman, were injured. Theodore Dumas, 75, of Dallas, was airlifted by helicopter to East Texas Medical Center Tyler for treatment of his injuries. Another person, Dorinda Dumas, 50, of Dallas, was taken by ambulance to Woodland Heights Medical Center.

A witness said a Chevy Silverado pickup rear-ended the 1924 Model T and ejected Theodore Dumas from the car.

November: After authorities searched for him for 18 days, the partially clad body of Alfred Wright was found by family members who were conducting a ground search in a wooded area in Sabine County on Nov. 26.

Investigator Chuck Foreman said the body of the 28-year-old Jasper man was found during a ground search conducted by the family, around 4 p.m. He was found near the same location he went missing, near Coussons Road.

Since the discovery of Wright's body, his family and friends have expressed concern about how the investigation and search were conducted by Sabine County authorities. Civil rights activist Quanell X has come to East Texas to lend his support, and the FBI is now involved in the investigation after a forensic pathologist hired by Wright's family performed a second autopsy on Wright's body and said there was enough physical trauma to his body to suggest some type of homicidal violence.

December: Investigators with the Palmer Police Department issued a Silver Alert for a 56-year-old Lufkin man who went missing there on Dec. 3. Eliga Ray Ferguson Jr. was on his way from Houston to drop off a load in Dallas when he disappeared.

According to an e-mail from his daughter, Ferguson called his wife shortly after he stopped at a truck stop in Palmer. The call was cut off in the middle.

When Ferguson's 18-wheeler was found, it was still running, Ferguson's daughter said. In addition, there was a half-eaten banana in the truck's cab.

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