MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — 2022 was another big year for local news stories in the Grand Strand and Pee Dee.
News13 compiled a list of the 10 biggest local news stories for 2022, based on a few different factors, including web traffic analytics, amount of coverage and community interest.
#10 Buc-ee’s opens first South Carolina location in Florence
Thousands of people showed up at Buc-ee’s in Florence for its grand opening in May. The store is the chain’s first location in South Carolina.
People began lining up at 3 a.m. The location features 120 gas pumps and a 50,000-square foot store.
#9 January winter ice storm
Winter weather hit the Grand Strand and Pee Dee in January. Most of the viewing area saw freezing rain and sleet, with some parts of the Pee Dee seeing snow.
Myrtle Beach even saw snow for the first time since 2014.
#8 Dillon County principal shot to death
A Dillon County principal was found shot to death in a car in August, according to officials.
Wendy Cook, 54, was a principal at Stewart Heights Elementary School.
A 31-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with her death.
The warrants state that the shooting happened “at his residence,” but does not specify if it happened inside, outside or in the vehicle. What the two were doing together was not noted.
#7 Atlantic Beach councilman shot, killed
Atlantic Beach councilman Jim DeWitt was shot and killed in October. DeWitt and his wife were both killed in Richland County, and the man accused in the deaths also allegedly killed 52-year-old Natasha Stevens in Conway, according to officials.
“The Town of Atlantic Beach, South Carolina, community is shocked and deeply saddened by the deaths of Councilman Jim DeWitt and his family,” Mayor Jake Evans said in a printed statement at the time. “The Town is fully cooperating with the investigations into this matter by the Horry and Richland County Sheriff Departments. We offer our condolences and deepest sympathy to the family.”
Former Atlantic Beach councilman John Sketers told News13 that Stevens was a cousin of Jim DeWitt.
#6 Florence County paramedic killed after car drives around crash scene, hitting multiple people
Florence County paramedic Sara Weaver, 32, and a motorcyclist she was treating, Cedric Antonio Gregg, 37, were both killed when a woman allegedly drove around a crash scene and hit multiple people.
In total, at least nine people were injured during the incident, some of which were hit by flying debris, according to officials.
First responders were initially responding to a crash involving motorcycles in the area at the time.
#5 Carolina Forest teacher, 2 kids found shot dead in home
A Carolina Forest teacher and her two children were found shot dead Aug. 31 in a Carolina Forest home after police were called for a welfare check.
Laura Moberley was a teacher at Carolina Forest Elementary School, according to Horry County Schools. She was hired in 2018 as a Reading Loss Interventionist.
Emily Moberley was a third-grade student at Carolina Forest Elementary School. Eric Moberley was a student at Ten Oaks Middle School, according to the district.
Laura Moberley and her husband, William Moberley, were in a custody hearing on Aug. 30, a day before Laura Moberley and her children were found shot dead. The case was initiated by William Moberly on June 13, according to records.
The cause of death for Eric and Emily Moberley was homicide, and the cause of death for Laura Moberley was suicide, according to Chief Deputy Coroner Tamara Willard.
If you or anyone you know is having suicidal thoughts you can get free and confidential support 24/7 by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
#4 Doc Antle
Bhagavan “Doc” Antle, of “Tiger King,” made numerous headlines in 2022.
On June 3, Antle was booked into J. Reuben Long Detention Center. News13 later learned Antle was arrested on charges of money laundering, according to officials.
In July, he was indicted by a Florence grand jury on charges of wildlife trafficking and money laundering.
Antle, the owner of Myrtle Beach Safari in Myrtle Beach, was charged alongside four other people.
Antle was charged with laundering more than $500,000 as part of a scheme to smuggle immigrants across the border. He also allegedly used bulk cash receipts to buy the animals because he was unable to use checks, and used the cash by inflating tourist numbers at his Myrtle Beach business, according to the announcement.
One of Antle’s reported wives registered two businesses days after his arrest in June — both with addresses listed as Myrtle Beach Safari, which he owns.
In August, the U.S. government filed a motion to modify Antle’s bond after he allegedly tried to sell Myrtle Beach Safari after he was arrested for money laundering, according to federal documents.
The federal documents accused Antle of trying to sell the safari to Sugrivia Co LLC, which is one of the two businesses reportedly set up by one of Antle’s reported wives.
Antle also made multiple court appearances on wildlife trafficking charges out of Virginia. The trial has since been delayed.
#3 Myrtle Beach first responders save North Carolina man bitten by venomous snake
A Myrtle Beach Fire Department paramedic and a doctor from Grand Strand Medical Center helped save the life of a North Carolina man bitten by one of the world’s deadliest snakes.
Thad Bowman and Dr. Jarratt Lark received a Civilian Life Saving award after they helped save the man who was bitten by a Gaboon viper.
The Wilmington man was bitten while caring for one of the snakes. Bowman and Lark have experience with exotic snakes, so they were called in to help.
The Gaboon viper, originally from Africa, is said to be one of the deadliest venomous snakes in the world.
Lark said people who are bitten by those types of snakes usually don’t survive.
The venom of a Gaboon viper rapidly immobilizes and digests the snake’s prey. It also affects blood-clotting ability to the point where a person’s blood can no longer clot. The man suffered from all those effects.
#2 Raymond Moody pleads guilty to killing Brittanee Drexel
The man accused of kidnapping and killing 17-year-old Brittanee Drexel in 2009 pleaded guilty in October and was sentenced to life in prison.
Raymond Moody pleaded guilty to murder, kidnapping and first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was given a life sentence on the murder charge and 30 years each on the remaining charges, which the judge ordered to be served consecutively.
“I was a monster, and I took Brittanee Drexel’s life,” Moody said after several of Drexel’s family members spoke in court. “And I don’t have the words to express how horrible I feel and how I’ve felt ever since that day, and I’m very sorry.”
Prosecutors released video of Moody confessing to the killing.
Drexel, who was from Rochester, New York, disappeared on April 25, 2009, while she was on spring break with friends in the Myrtle Beach area. Authorities said her cell phone last pinged that day near the Charleston and Georgetown county line.
Her remains were found on May 11 in a wooded area along Old Town Avenue in Harmony Township in Georgetown County.
Moody was arrested and charged with obstruction of justice on May 4 in Georgetown County, but he initially was named a person of interest in her disappearance in August 2011. That charge was dropped in Wednesday morning’s hearing.
Authorities announced the additional charges on May 16 after saying that Drexel’s remains had been identified.
#1 Hurricane Ian
Hurricane Ian made its second U.S. landfall on Sept. 30 near Georgetown as a Category 1 hurricane after it devastated the gulf coast of Florida as a Category 4 storm.
Many of the Grand Strand’s dunes took a big hit during the storm, and at the time, officials estimated it would take months to restore them.
A boat also washed ashore in Myrtle Beach due to the storm surge. The Shayna Michelle shrimp boat was pulled out to sea after crews worked for two days to free the vessel. The boat drew large crowds to the oceanfront over several days to watch as crews brought in heavy equipment to dig it out and prepare to move it back into the water.
One person was arrested for climbing onto the boat.
Before making landfall along the Grand Strand, Hurricane Ian carved a path of destruction across Florida, trapping people in flooded homes, cutting off the only bridge to a barrier island, destroying a historic waterfront pier and knocking out power to 2.5 million people as it dumped rain over a huge area.
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Kevin Accettulla is the digital executive producer at News13. Kevin is from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He joined the News13 team in March 2020 after nearly two years at a sister station in Pennsylvania. Follow Kevin on Twitter and read more of his work here.