Year in review: Top 10 web stories of 2014

Crash victims were Surrey high school sweethearts

The most read story on the Now website this year was about two teenagers who were killed in a five-car crash along a Delta stretch of road between Highway 91 and Scott Road in October. Chantal MacLean and her boyfriend Cody Kehler, both 17, were Clayton Heights Secondary students and were on their way to Thanksgiving dinner when their vehicle lost control on a curve and went into oncoming traffic. Both died in the impact. An athletic scholarship has been created in MacLean’s name, to carry on the rugby star’s memory.

 

acid victim
Acid attack victim Tammy Sinclair looks away as police show surveillance video of the assault. Photo by Tom Zytaruk

Surrey acid attack haunts victim, frustrates police

A Newton business owner is haunted by the memory of a vicious acid attack. Tammy Sinclair and her husband Gordon own Sinclair’s Motorsports. In September, a man posing as a customer chucked a glass jar filled with muriatic, or hydrochloric acid, at Tammy’s face as she was standing out in front of the shop. She suffered scarring on her neck, and blistered gums and tongue. No arrests have been made.

 

bad santa
Christmas is a special time for 20-year-old Surrey actor Brett Kelly. After all, he starred in ‘Bad Santa,’ (right) the 2003 Christmas comedy that has become something of a cult classic. (Photo: JACOB ZINN)

Surrey’s Brett Kelly: ‘Bad Santa’ kid 10 years later

Readers sure loved this feature on the Surrey man who starred in the well-known Bad Santa flick as a child. Brett Kelly’s claim to fame is his role in the 2003 anti-Christmas comedy, starring Billy Bob Thornton as a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed mall Santa named Willie, with Tony Cox as his elfish dwarf sidekick named Marcus. Though this piece was published in 2013, it was the third most read story on our site this year.

 

Mirage
Owner and operator of former nightclub, Mirage, Wayne Ferguson reconstructed the space over the summer to open up Taphouse on 102a Avenue in Surrey. (Photo: Kristi Alexandra)

Mirage closure makes way for new pub venture

Surrey’s little club oasis in Guildford, the Mirage, shut down after 18 years in business this summer. The popular club’s closure elicited lots of attention from party-going Surreyites, who were eager to see the venue reopened as the Taphouse, marketed as an upscale pub with live music, by owner Wayne Ferguson.

 

BCTF Jim Iker
BCTF President Jim Iker. (Photo: Wayne Leidenfrost, Vancouver Sun)

LETTER: BCTF deserves huge fine, should be disbanded

A letter sent in by reader David Simonov was fifth on the most-read list this year. In it, he argued the BCTF engaged in destructive activity, and “blackmailed the rest of British Columbians into paying even more for public education, which is very expensive as it is.” He called for BCTF to receive a heavy fine for “abuse of power and spreading corrupting socialist ideology and immediate disbanding of the union and privatization of government schools across B.C.”

Balraj Singh Rattu
Balraj Singh Rattu disappeared before his 20th birthday in 1995. His father is still tirelessly looking for answers.

For almost two decades, Surrey dad looks for his son

The case of Balraj Singh Rattu, 19, is one of the older mysteries that Surrey RCMP has on the books. On the day he disappeared, Balraj had asked his dad if he could take his car to go see some friends. That was on Nov. 6, 1995, six weeks before his 20th birthday. He hasn’t been seen since.

Three days later, the Chilliwack RCMP called the Rattus to report they’d found their car – a silver Hyundai Stellar – burnt, in the Vedder Canal, not far from No. 3 Road. It had been driven off the dike. Balraj’s jacket, undershirt, grey sweatshirt and jeans were found rolled up on the Stellar’s front passenger floor. His shirt was partly burned and there was a spot of blood on the right collarbone area of his sweatshirt. A DNA test confirmed the blood to be his. A $20 bill had been tucked into his clothes.

“We’re open to any and all possible theories,” said Cpl. Mike Hall, in charge of the detachment’s Unsolved Homicides Unit. “We’ll treat this investigation as a missing persons investigation where foul play is suspected. Obviously, we have not found Mr. Rattu’s body so, does the possibility exist that he’s left and is still alive somewhere? That is a possibility. There’s no evidence to support that at this time.”

Balraj’s family needs answers.

“It’s hard for me to go through this life,” his dad Gurmukh Rattu said.

Nazi facebook
Christopher Maximilian Sandau, 33, was fired from his coaching position in North Delta minor hockey after parents found Facebook postings promoting Nazi propaganda. (Photo: Facebook)

Delta hockey coach fired for Nazi obsession on Facebook

The Now broke a story in November that was picked up by Sports Illustrated, USA Today and European news media. The North Delta Minor Hockey Association fired local kids’ hockey coach Christopher Maximilian Sandau, 33, in November for posting Nazi propoganda on his personal Facebook page.

Teachers striking
Teachers were on strike all through the summer this past year.

BALDREY: Fight for classes hurts our education system

In September, during the teachers’ strike, Keith Baldrey argued that whatever the outcome of the messy fight, it’s likely the provincial education system won’t see significant improvement in the near future. He wrote both the government and the BC Teachers’ Federation are to blame, having been locked in war for more than a decade. “Even a negotiated contract will not end the acrimony and bitterness that characterizes their relationship,” he stated, later adding, “It is not about the kids and never has been. It is about control.”

 

Rodeo port-a-potty Simpson
Believe it or not, a young girl and her beau at the Cloverdale Rodeo and Fair chose to have sex in a port-a-potty like these ones.

SIMPSON: A day at rodeo shows parents need to step it up

The Now received a lot of feedback following editor Beau Simpson’s opinion piece on his experience at the Cloverdale Rodeo this year, where he saw kids stumbling around blind drunk and acting inappropriately. “If a day at the rodeo is any indication, we seriously need to step up our game as parents,” Simpson wrote. “Our community is depending on it.”

Although a few people associated with the rodeo thought his column unfairly cast the event in a negative light, readers flooded the Now with letters to the editor agreeing with Simpson’s take on the experience at the Fair.

Mele Family
John Mele and family in a recent year’s photo. The 43-year-old realtor was well-known in the community and loved by many. (Facebook photo).

Funeral planned for popular South Surrey realtor, coach

Sadness gripped Surrey when news broke that a beloved local father, little league coach and well-known realtor from South Surrey, John Mele, drowned while on vacation in the Okanagan this summer. Hundreds paid respects at his Celebration of Life service on Aug. 20 following emotional statements from friends and family to the media.

Compiled by the Now

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