From winter storms to a drunken rant, the stories that captured the attention of The Courant’s online audience in 2015 ranged from the poignant to the predictable. Readers closely followed major developing crime news and political stories, but personal stories of triumph also made the list. Oh, and don’t forget the pizza.
Following are the Top 10 most-read stories on Courant.com in 2015 in descending order:
When the possibility of the St. Louis Rams moving to Los Angeles surfaced early in 2015, columnist Dan Haar offered advice: Don’t build a $985 million stadium with nearly half the cost financed by taxpayers on property considered blight but could someday have development value. Hartford and St. Louis are both river towns built on manufacturing, with historic assets, and fighting to make their downtowns lively, Haar said. He pointed to the major developments in Hartford that didn’t pan out, including Constitution Plaza and a proposed riverfront stadium for the New England Patriots, and said both cities should focus on small-scale developments rather than a stadium used eight times a year.
After a daylong debate, state lawmakers in June approved a two-year, $40-billion budget that raised taxes on corporations, wealthy individuals and the middle class. The taxing and spending plan set aside half a percent of the 6.35 percent sales tax to cities and towns to help reduce car taxes and another half a percent to fund Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s ambitious transportation plans. Businesses such as car washes, accounting firms and veterinarians also were subject to sales tax for the first time.
Lauren Mohr, 34, was headed home to Wallingford after work on Feb. 19 when she saw a crash on I-91 in New Haven. After calling 911, she waited with the victims of the hit-and-run before falling over a concrete wall to her death, state police said. In a statement, her father and stepmother said, “Lauren was courageous and optimistic, and had faced a lot of challenges in her life, which made her a caring and wise person.”
Windsor Locks teenager Cassandra C. thought she should get to decide how to confront her Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Cassandra was ordered by the state Supreme Court to undergo chemotherapy although she had rejected the treatment. She wrote an impassioned defense of her position that appeared in The Courant. “I am a human — I should be able to decide if I do or don’t want chemotherapy. Whether I live 17 years or 100 years should not be anyone’s choice but mine.” In April, Cassandra finished her treatment and went home cancer-free.
The search for 7-month-old Aaden Moreno began on the evening of Sunday, July 5. By Tuesday night, Aaden’s small body had been recovered from the Connecticut River and it was reported that his father, Tony Moreno, had thrown him off the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown before he jumped himself. The father was pulled from the water and taken to Hartford Hospital, where he was later arraigned on murder and capital felony charges. Before Aaden’s death, the mother had applied for a permanent restraining order against his father but it was denied.
The story of a Simsbury High School football player’s wait for a heart transplant, as told by columnist Jeff Jacobs, captured the attention of Courant.com readers in September. In addition to Danny Deitz’s own compelling story, his father, Terry Deitz, was a contestant on “Survivor Cambodia — Second Chance.” During the airing of the series this fall, real life and reality show collided when Terry Deitz got a call that his son needed a new heart, and he abruptly left the show. The wait for a new heart was shorter than expected and Danny underwent a successful surgery this fall.
A pastor was shot in May while planting American flags outside a church in Hartford’s West End, part of a surge of gun violence on city streets this past summer. The pastor, the Rev. August Sealy, was hospitalized for injuries to his shoulder and leg. A man was later arrested and charged with shooting Sealy outside the First Church of the Nazarene on Capitol Avenue and then another man 14 minutes later at Garden and Mather streets.
The late-January blizzard was a bust for the western half of the state, but eastern Connecticut saw up to 2 feet of snow and treacherous travel conditions. The massive nor’easter — which buried much of coastal New England — veered 75 to 100 miles east, burying Boston, but only brushing New York City and western New England. The director of the National Weather Service said after the storm that his agency should have done a better job of communicating uncertainty about its forecast.
Everybody knows New Haven pizza stars, including Pepe’s and Sally’s, but in honor of National Pizza Month (October) CTNOW traveled the state in search of hidden gem pizzas, finding them in unusual locations including Litchfield, Simsbury, Ledyard and Salem.
An opinion piece about a drunken UConn student’s craving for bacon jalapeño macaroni and cheese was far and away the most-read item on courant.com in 2015. The confrontation in the Union Street Market food court in UConn’s student union was captured in a 9-minute video, posted to YouTube and quickly went viral. News stories about the tirade, the apology, the mac-and-cheese recipe and Luke Gatti’s subsequent court appearances were also well-read. Gatti was spared jail time on Dec. 21.