CENTRAL TEXAS (KXAN) — The tragic loss of a Texas Longhorns linebacker, the deadly February winter freeze and COVID-19 vaccine waitlists were all some of the most-read stories of 2021 on KXAN.com. See the full list below.
In late May, University of Texas student and Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlinger was found dead off-campus. Ehlinger is the younger brother of former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts. In October, Ehlinger’s family said his death was due to an accidental drug overdose from what is believed to be prescription anti-anxiety medication Xanax laced with fentanyl.
This story was a haunting warning days before the deadly February winter storm hit Texas. The First Warning Weather Team broke down the science of how chunks of the “polar vortex” were going to break off and dive southward into the United States. The Texas Department of State Health Services said more than 200 people in the state died because of the extreme winter weather event.
Just a few days after the release of his controversial music video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name),” rapper Lil Nas X created the “Satan Shoes” in collaboration with the MSCHF clothing brand in March. The shoes contained one drop of human blood in the sole. While the shoes are Nike’s classic Air Max ’97s, the shoe company stated it was not involved with the creation or sale of the shoes.
In mid-April, three people were killed in a shooting near a northwest Austin apartment complex. It was initially reported as a possible active shooter situation, but Austin police concluded it was a domestic incident. Police identified the suspect as 41-year-old Stephen Broderick. He was arrested the next day, after a manhunt. Broderick was charged with capital murder in the deaths of his adopted daughter, Alyssa Broderick, her boyfriend, Willie Simmons III, and his ex-wife, Amanda Broderick.
The month of February saw an increase in COVID-19 vaccine shipments across the country. While most of the state wouldn’t be eligible until late March, pharmacies, hubs and clinics across Central Texas began to offer pre-registration for COVID-19 vaccine appointments. Texas opened registration for all adults and teens ages 16 or older on March 29.
Hurricane Ida devastated the Louisiana coastline in late August, making landfall twice. Both times, Ida made landfall as a major Category 4 storm. It initially made landfall at 11:55 a.m. Central Time near Port Fourchon, Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. The storm briefly went back over water before making another landfall at 2 p.m. in Galliano, Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 145 mph.
In mid-June, Austin police responded to a mass shooting in downtown Austin that killed one and left at least 14 people hurt. The shooting happened on East Sixth Street near Trinity Street. De’Ondre White, 19, was indicted in August on a murder charge and 14 counts of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. It was determined the shooting began as a fight between two rival groups of teens and young adults from Killeen.
Organizers of a beach festival on South Padre Island are under fire for putting on a “disorganized” event and failing to deliver promised performances at the Sol Beach Festival in early September. Thousands who attended the festival were demanding ticket refunds after none of the artists set to perform at the event were able to due to power outages caused by inadequate generators.
As the February winter freeze wreaked havoc across the state, many water treatment plants lost power, and utilities across Central Texas were asking customers to boil their water. KXAN kept a running list of all of the boil water notices that were in place during the February freeze in the area.
In late January, a hostage situation that lasted more than six hours in a central Austin pediatric office left two doctors dead. Austin police identified one of the deceased as the shooter, Dr. Bharat Narumanchi. They said he entered the Children’s Medical Group building located at 1912 W. 35th St. with a gun and held five adult employees hostage. Narumanchi let four of them go, but not Dr. Katherine Lindley Dodson. According to officials, Narumanchi was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and hadn’t worked in the building, but had been reportedly rejected for a volunteer role.