YEAR IN REVIEW: Stories that clicked in 2015

Excerpts from the Now’s most-viewed stories online

  • Dec. 30, 2015 5:00 a.m.
Our story about Surrey nurse Zeina Ayache

Our story about Surrey nurse Zeina Ayache

Excerpts from the Now’s most-viewed stories online in 2015:

1. “Surrey woman near suicide bomb attack on Syrian refugees in Lebanon” (Nov. 12)

Surrey nurse Zeina Ayache was in Lebanon with family and visited Beirut less than 24 hours before suicide bombers killed more than 40 people and injured another 200 or more on a street she had stood on. It’s said to be one of the deadliest strikes the country has had since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis with ISIS. “Right now the world is complaining about how Starbucks’ cup is red, but what about the streets in Lebanon? They’re red right now. Let’s talk about that,” Ayache said.

2. “A daughter’s downward spiral” (Dec. 17)

Facing an ‘epidemic’ level of  mental illness and addiction among youth, experts are focusing on helping children like South Surrey’s Adriana Falcon, who lost her life to drugs at just 15 years old. It was B.C. law, according to father Rick Falcon, that made it difficult to make decisions on her behalf. He believes treatment should become involuntary at some point. “These kids don’t usually aspire to put down a GI Joe and pick up a meth pipe,” said Rick. “Something pushed them to that.” For Adriana, it was a sexual assault.

3. “Former Tory MP endorses Surrey Liberal candidate” (Oct. 15)

Former Surrey Conservative MP Dona Cadman traded blue for red in the 2015 Canadian federal election, endorsing Liberal MP candidate Randeep Sarai in the contest for Surrey Centre. Cadman served as MP for Surrey North from 2008 to 2011, the same riding her husband Chuck represented as a Reform, Canadian Alliance, Conservative and finally Independent MP. The couple entered politics after lobbying for justice reform following the murder of their son Jesse in 1992. Cadman told the Now the “Conservative have become the party they were against when they first came in,” adding, “It isn’t the same party I joined with. I don’t like negative adds.”

4. “Storm causes thousands of power outages” (Aug. 29)

A windstorm knocked out power to more than 200,000 customers in southwestern British Columbia. Most of the affected homes were in the Lower Mainland, including Surrey. Spokeswoman Simi Heer said the utility has launched its storm response plan, bringing together decision-makers into one room in Surrey to ensure efficient deployment of crews and resources. Heer said the outages are generally due to trees and branches falling on power lines and crews are working hard to repair damage, but customers should be patient.

5. “Gordon Manor’ rises again as a spooky landmark in North Delta” (Oct. 28)

For a couple months each year, as summer fades and fall begins to show its colours, Gord Sauck and his wife Susan work to build a local landmark. Their “Gordon Manor,” located in the heart of the Sunshine Hills neighbourhood in North Delta, is a go-to place at Halloween. The manor name represents Gord’s given name and Susan’s family name, Gordon. On Craigslist back in 2012, Sauck spotted a “haunted house” façade for sale and bought it from a Port Coquitlam couple who, as part of the deal, helped put it together on the driveway of his home. Ever since, it’s been temporarily decorated with an ever-expanding assortment of lights, lasers, projected images, thundering sounds and animatronics. On Halloween night, the street is blocked off to allow hundreds of people to safely gather outside.

6. “Surrey mother killer found guilty of second-degree murder” (Sept. 29)

A Surrey woman who stabbed her mother 24 times with the force of pounding a nail into hard wood and left her to die on her basement suite floor with the knife still stuck in her chest was found guilty of second-degree murder. Gloria Zerbinos, 30, wore a blank expression as B.C. Supreme Court Justice Frits Verhoeven described the attack, in which the victim was repeatedly stabbed through her heart. “It is clear the attack was extremely violent and at least somewhat prolonged,” the judge noted. Zerbinos’ “lethal intention,” he said, “could hardly be more emphatically demonstrated.” Earlier this year, Verhoeven rejected Zerbinos’ defence that she should be found not criminally responsible due to a mental disorder in the Nov. 8, 2012 stabbing death of her 43-year-old mother Panagiota “Yota” Zerbinos.

7. “Surrey crime so far this year, district by district” (Nov. 5)

Whalley had recorded the highest number of violent crimes of all Surrey communities by the third quarter of the year, followed by Newton. According to the most recent RCMP statistics, the city recorded 5,498 violent crimes in the first three quarters of 2015. There were 3,939 over the same period in 2014, making for a 40 per cent increase. At this time, the police had seven homicides on their list, 23 attempted murders, 497 robberies, 228 sexual assaults, 2,670 assaults and 47 abductions and kidnappings.

8. “Surrey Pegasus FC: ‘People want to play for us. We’re a family.'” (Nov. 12)

The Surrey Pegasus FC team won the B.C. championships in 2011. In early November the team took Surrey United 2-1 in a dramatic match, poised to hopefully take back the top provincial spot this year. New coach Paul Bahia said the team hasn’t looked this good since its 2011 run. It’s no coincidence that Pegasus’ ascension coincided with the return to form of one of its key players, Chetan (CJ) Jhooty. He had his share of issues on and off the field, both of which he’s since overcome. “Everyone knows that growing up in Surrey can be tough. I did a lot of things I wish I could change,” said CJ. He quit drinking, got back into soccer and is helping bring Pegasus back to its former glory.

9. “Police ask for help finding crook who has robbed Surrey liquor stores 23 times since June” (Oct. 5)

In October, police asked the public to help identify a man suspected of repeatedly robbing liquor stores in Surrey. Four liquor stores in Fleetwood and South Surrey were hit at least 23 times since June 26, according to police. A 28-year-old man was later arrested, facing theft charges as well as charges of breach of probation. “Retail theft can cost merchants thousands of dollars annually,” noted Surrey RCMP Cpl. Scotty Schumann. “The net result is often higher costs passed to the consumer. Not only do businesses directly affected benefit when a prolific thief is caught, but so do consumers.”

10. “Grieving family dares Surrey killer to look at them” (Sept. 10)

Amritpal Saran’s grieving family taunted Sarbjit Bains, daring the killer to look up at them as they read aloud their heartbreaking victim-impact statements during his sentencing hearing in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster. He didn’t. Bains, 34, hung his head. The Surrey man pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Saran, a Delta resident, and to two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of Jill Lyons and Karen Nabors in New Westminster. Saran, 29, was killed in February 2013, and Nabors and Lyons were killed nearly six months later, in August. Saran’s charred body was found in the 12100-block of Colebrook Road in rural Surrey on Feb. 24, 2013. Then, on Aug. 12, 2013, Lyons’ body was found in her apartment in New Westminster. Less than two weeks later, on Aug. 25, Nabors’ body was found inside her apartment, in the same complex where Lyons lived.

Compiled by staff



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