AUSTIN (KXAN) — The February winter freeze, an unruly airline passenger traveling to Austin and a singing substitute teacher were all a part of the most-watched videos for KXAN in 2021. Check out the top 10 below.
On May 6, University of Texas student and Longhorns linebacker Jake Ehlinger, 20, was found dead off campus. He was the younger brother of former Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who was drafted into the NFL not too long before his brother’s death. In October, the Ehilnger family said Jake died from an accidental drug overdose.
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.
A family’s dream of a “forever home” came to an abrupt halt once they learned their home, water, utilities and septic were all put on the wrong property in Bastrop County. This late August KXAN Investigation dove into the processes leading up to the home being built and utilities being installed. In the end, Jacqueline and Ron Howard weren’t left with much answers from the manufactured homes company they worked with.
At the start of 2021, the Federal Aviation Administration reported a spike in passengers getting rowdy on flights, and there have been more than 4,000 mask-related incidents reported during the year. One of those instances was on an American Airlines flight from New Orleans to Austin Aug. 1. A viewer caught a fistfight on video, saying two people were detained afterward. Austin Police said neither party wanted to pursue the matter.
This story was only published this month, but it’s made quite the impact online. Andrew Abelkis sent in the above video to KXAN of a singing substitute teacher, who brought his own karaoke machine to a Bowie High School class and performed a rendition of “Toxic” by Britney Spears. The sub was asked to leave early, according to the Austin Independent School District.
As Texans navigated the deadly winter freeze in February, KXAN investigated the nonprofit managing the state’s electric load. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages 26 million Texans’ access to electricity, voted to hand one-third of its decision-making power to five people who do not call Texas home. The ERCOT bylaws make out-of-state appointments legal. Nothing in the bylaws requires unaffiliated directors to live in Texas. In fact, the bylaws only state “Residence in the State of Texas preferred.”
As the coronavirus pandemic continued into 2021, in February, Texas was a part of an 11-state rollout for providing COVID-19 vaccines through CVS Pharmacy. CVS began providing COVID-19 vaccines in select locations in 12 Texas cities, not including Austin. The pharmacy was among those selected by the Biden administration to speed up vaccinations.
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.
In mid-February, President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill was being contested in the House. The bill would ultimately be sent to the president’s desk in March, which sent direct payments up to $1,400 to Americans and extended a $300 per week unemployment insurance supplement. The legislation was ultimately passed by Democrats alone in Congress. The bill also put billions of dollars into the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as rental and utility assistance.
In mid-April, three people were killed in a shooting near a northwest Austin apartment complex. The scene 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.