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Top 10 clicked on stories
The most popular stories of 2011 on
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The year 2011 started off with a monster snowstorm that brought much of North Georgia to a halt.

It also began with a bang for the Hall County Board of Commissioners.

Most notable in this list of the top 10 clicked-on stories for 2011, though, is the number of tragic wrecks. They are stories we wish we didn't have to tell.

The following represents those articles that garnered the most overall page views this year at

1. Victims, suspect in Harbour Point shooting identified

In July, Hall County Sheriff's deputies responded to a gruesome scene in an upscale lake neighborhood off Dawsonville Highway.

A man, John Pearce, stabbed his mother to death and severely injured his aunt before deputies found him outside the home at about 8 p.m., covered in blood.

Pearce charged the deputies, who then shot him to death. They were cleared later that month of any wrongdoing in the shooting.

The story was by far the most clicked on of the year, with the most page views and most unique page views, meaning views from different people.

2. Clarks Bridge wreck kills 3, injures 3

A number of fatal wrecks and wrecks involving children garnered many page views this year.

The No. 2 spot goes to a head-on collision in March, on Clarks Bridge Road just north of Honeysuckle Road, that killed three passengers in a red minivan. Three passengers in a black Range Rover were taken to the hospital. Few other details were available in the first report.

It was later determined that the minivan drove off the west shoulder of the road in the rain, overcorrected and struck the SUV.

Four other significant wrecks also attracted a lot of clicks.

An August wreck killed a Gainesville man on McEver Road near Free Chapel. Six others were seriously injured as well, including three children. The next day, a wreck at Mount Vernon and Jim Hood roads injured four children and one adult.

Another story that ranked high in clicks was that of a 19-year-old driver charged in a July 4 wreck on Whelchel Mill Road in northwestern hall that killed two teens.

And earlier in the year in February, a car struck and killed a woman walking outside her home in East Hall. The car careened down an embankment, injuring the driver who was not charged in the incident.

3. Commission trio forces 4 Hall officials to resign

With two new faces on the Hall County Board of Commissioners, Craig Lutz and Scott Gibbs, the county was thrown into a whirlwind before the first meeting of the year. Four of the county's top administrators were forced to resign as the two new commissioners teamed with Ashley Bell to seek new leadership in county government.

Commission Chairman Tom Oliver and Commissioner Billy Powell strongly opposed the moves.

County Attorney Bill Blalock was eventually reinstated. Former County Administrator Charley Nix, Assistant County Administrator Phil Sutton and Finance Director Michaela Thompson have all since been replaced.

4. Gainesville student remembered as musician, scholar

Another wreck that drew a lot of people to was one that killed Gainesville High School student Patrick Kelley earlier this month. It happened on Clarks Bridge Road near Honeysuckle Road.

Friends and teachers remembered Kelley as a "shining light," "a beautiful person" and an "extraordinary human being."

He was a senior, hoping to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology or possibly Georgia Tech.

5. Woman jumps into Lanier to avoid skidding truck

In February, a daring jump into icy waters attracted attention nationwide. Bianca Vera, a nursing student at North Georgia College & State University, stopped on the Dawsonville Highway bridge in Gainesville after a minor accident caused by the icy roads that morning.

She got out of her car to check the damage and soon after saw the lights of a tractor-trailer heading straight toward her. With few choices to avoid being hit, she jumped.

She suffered a broken vertebra and serious bruises to her legs and body when she hit Lake Lanier. She was also treated for hypothermia. But she survived and media outlets across the country told her story.

6. School days will get longer for Hall County

A snowstorm shut down schools and many businesses for a week in January.

With six days to make up, Hall County Schools decided to lengthen the school day by one hour for two weeks beginning after spring break. The move drew a lot of comments.

7. Restaurant owner arrested in gun-pointing incident

A tiff between local restaurant owners Juan Luna and Scott Dixon garnered some attention in June.

Luna was charged with simple assault and pointing a firearm at another after the incident.

Dixon told The Times they were arguing about Luna hiring away Dixon's head chef.

The altercation escalated as Luna allegedly retrieved a nightstick from his vehicle and approached Dixon in a threatening manner, according to a police report.

After a brief verbal exchange, Luna reportedly drove away only to return a short time later.

According to the report, he then got out of his car and pointed a black semi-automatic handgun at Dixon.

Luna told police about the argument but denied touching the handgun during the exchange. He also said he hadn't carried the baton with him on that particular night.

The case against Luna is still pending.

8. Postal workers cry foul about cuts in hours

U.S. postal workers in November picketed outside the Flowery Branch post office, alleging their supervisors were violating union contracts by cutting back their hours and hiring "unskilled" employees in their place.

The story was posted on a site for postal news, which may have helped boost it into the top 10 list.

9. Buford teen's body found in Lake Lanier

A 14-year-old was involved in a boating accident on Lake Lanier in late August.

His body was found the next day in waters near Toto Creek Park.

Two others were injured when two boats collided in the lake near the Hall-Dawson line.

10. Editor pleads guilty to DUI

Times Executive Editor Mitch Clarke was charged Jan. 19 with DUI and booked into the Hall County Jail.

The Times covered his May 3 court hearing, at which he pleaded guilty.

He was sentenced to serve 40 hours of community service and pay an $800 fine for the DUI charge.

In addition, he was placed on a 12-month probation, told to undergo drug and alcohol evaluations and complete Georgia's Risk Reduction Program at a DUI school. For a failure to maintain lane charge, he was sentenced to a consecutive 12-month probation.


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