Biggest Michiana news stories of the year

From plane crashes to fake girlfriends plaguing one of Michiana's favorite Irishmen, 2013 was full of huge stories for our community.

Our first story made headlines toward the end of the year.

As you remember, there was a lot of back and forth among South Bend officials on whether bringing two-way traffic back to the city was the right move.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg emphasizes that two way streets, a project that's now known as the Smart Streets Initiative, would make downtown South Bend more pedestrian-friendly and boost business.

But, some council members had concerns about how much money would be spent on this project, and if it was truly necessary.

The South Bend Common Council eventually approved the budget a couple months ago with 11 million dollars for the Smart Streets Initiative.

Big year for Notre Dame football

2013 started out as a year filled with hope for Irish fans, as the football team headed to the national championship in Miami.

But, just two days after the Irish faithful filled this beach for a pep rally, dreams of another national title came to end.

Alabama defeated Notre Dame 42 to 14.

Then weeks later, the Manti Te'o scandal broke.

The girlfriend Manti had talked so much about was in fact fake.

The university and Manti, went on to say it was all part of an elaborate catfishing scheme, with Manti as the victim.

And you can't forget when quarterback Everett Golson was expelled from the university after cheating on a test.

The expulsion meant the football team would have to tackle this year's season without Golson.

The Irish finished 9 and 4 after beating the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers 29 to 16 in the Pinstripe Bowl Saturday.

Sand rescue

A little boy's recovery after being trapped in a sand hole amazed people throughout Michiana.

The incident happened at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore this summer.

The boy and his family were visiting Mount Baldy near Michigan City.

The boy's family tried to dig him out, but ran into trouble when they discovered he was completely covered by sand.

The Michigan City police and fire departments were called to the scene.

They attempted to get the boy out, but only had the use of their hands.

Extra emergency help was then called in to assist on this rescue.

The boy was pulled out of the hole and showed vital signs.

He was taken to St. Anthony's Hospital in Michigan City, then air lifted to a Chicago hospital.

The boy, Nathan Woessner has made a full recovery.

Baby found in dumpster

Purvi Patel is charged with neglect of dependent causing death.

Patel was seven months into her pregnancy when she took drugs to end it and allegedly threw the infant’s body into a Mishawaka dumpster.

Experts say the baby was born alive. Patel claims it wasn't moving or breathing so she thought it was dead.

Her trial is scheduled for March 2014.

Child stabbed by father

In June, 6-year-old Shirley Mundia was stabbed to death by her father.
The Irish Hills Apartment Complex was a bloody scene.

Shirley and her mother, 32-year-old Lucy Mundia, were both brutally beaten by Edward Mwaura, 33..

At around 5 a.m., neighbors say they heard screaming and found the hallways of building 4252 covered in blood, as if someone tried to run.

That someone was Lucy Mundia, who managed to escape and was covered in lacerations herself.

When police arrived she told them her 6-year-old was still inside.

Officers entered the apartment and found Mwaura stabbing his daughter.

An officer fired at him to stop him and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police chief investigation

South Bend's police chief spent months under fire for not stepping in to help another officer who was breaking up a fight outside the Martin Luther King Center last spring.

The complaint led to an Indiana State Police investigation.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg eventually cleared the chief of any wrongdoing.

The findings of the ISP investigation have not been released to the public, but were discussed in a closed door board of public safety meeting.

The board president, Pat Cottrell, resigned a couple of hours after the meeting, saying he did not agree with the mayor's decision not to discipline the chief.

Controversy around new Ind. felony murder law

The group of teens that became known as the "Elkhart Four", shed light on Indiana's felony murder law this year.

Blake Layman, 17, Levi Sparks, 18, and Anthony Sharp, Jr., 19, were convicted in the death of Danzele Johnson, 21, who was shot and killed during a home invasion last October.

A fourth teen involved, Jose Quiroz, pleaded guilty to the charges in order to receive a reduced sentence.

But none of them pulled the trigger.

According to Indiana law, if a person or group of people commit a felony --- in this case burglary --- and someone dies, those involved in the crime are responsible.

Friends and family sitting in the courtroom erupted in tears, shocked and angered at the verdict.

The teens were given sentences ranging from 45 to 55 years.

Lintz murder trial

Keith Lintz, 29, was sentenced to life without parole after he was convicted of first degree murder in Cass County.

The courtroom was packed with friends and family of Carolyn and John Tarwacki.

The couple was brutally murdered on a cold winter morning in February three years ago.

Lintz's defense attorney said he wouldn't say much, since an appeal would be filed.

However lintz did turn to the family and mumble quote, "I'm sorry for your loss, but I didn't do it. And I guess that's all I have to say."

RMG Foundry fire

In February, a massive fire tore through the old RMG Foundry in Mishawaka.
The fire filled the sky with large flames at around 5:30 p.m. that night.

Strong winds helped fuel the blaze, as did the contents inside.

The fire chief says upwards of 200 boats, cars and RVs were inside, and their fuel caused several small explosions.

Crews were on the scene for days.

South Bend plane crash

A private twin-jet aircraft crashed into at least three homes on a March afternoon.

The plane went down in the 1600 block of North Iowa Street.

It had been scheduled to land at the South Bend Regional Airport, but never made it.

Two people on the plane were killed and two other passengers injured.

No one died on the ground, but one person on the ground was hurt.

Investigators were in South Bend for weeks, trying to piece together what happened.

Here at WNDU, we've considered it an honor to be out in the community, telling the stories most important to you.

And there's no doubt, the NewsCenter 16 team has been touched by the tremendous strength shown when communities have pulled together.

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