By DAVID ROSS
Just as the COVID-19 pandemic dominated most of the news in 2020 so did the top read Times-Advocate stories for the year tend to have a coronavirus coloring.
We tracked the top 20 stories of the year, as chosen by our readers, and not necessarily by us, for being what was most popular. We will revisit them beginning with the top story and working down the 25th story.
The most read story of 2020 was a little story entitled “5 COVID-19 cases in Escondido.” At this writing that number stands at 9,468.
The April 7 story “Escondido gas under $2/gal, lowest in SoCal” also got the attention of our readers. Later in the week the price skipped back up.
The third most read story of the year was “Teenager overturns pickup with five other teens in the bed results in fatality.” The accident occurred January 4 on Summit Drive and Old Pasqual Road. One teenager died, and four others were seriously injured.
The 4th most popular story was “Food Network’s “Restaurant Impossible” returns to Rosie’s Cafe for fundraiser.” Chief Robert Irvine traveled to Grand Avenue for a fund-raiser for Kaitlyn Pilsbury, owner of Rosie’s Café. Despite raising many thousands of dollars for Pilsbury, she was forced to close the restaurant permanently later in the year, also a victim of the pandemic.
The fifth most read story in the TA was the July 2 story “ICE-PLEX Escondido closes.” The popular ice rink had operated for decades in the city. It was also the home of the Sabers Hockey Team, which are now homeless.
The 6th most read TA story online was “Palomar Hospital is prepared for the coming viral storm” which was an interview with Palomar Health’s CEO Diane Hansen about readiness to meet the COVID-19 spike that was expected any moment when the story ran March 31. Ironically, it wasn’t until this month that the readiness was needed.
“Double-fatality traffic collision at Broadway and Country Club Drive” was the 7th most read story. It ran December 21, just a couple of weeks ago. The story began, “On December 20 at approximately 9:51 p.m., Escondido Police and Fire units responded to a traffic collision that occurred at the intersection of Broadway and Country Club Drive in the City of Escondido. Country Club Drive becomes Rincon Ave on the east side of the intersection with Broadway. Upon arrival at the scene, it was discovered that two vehicles had collided and both drivers did not survive their injuries. Although still in the early stages, preliminary investigation revealed the following details regarding this tragic fatal collision.”
The 8th most read TA story online was “EPD provides update to May 5 pedestrian fatalities” which ran June 2. It updated a story of a driver who hit and killed a family of four who were crossing San Pasqual Valley Road. The driver in the case was later arrested and prosecuted.
The October 8 “Escondido’s Jose Romero arrested for alleged murder and arson” told the story of a man who was found unresponsive inside a burning building and of the man who was arrested for allegedly killing him and setting the fire. It was the 9th most read story of the year.
The 10th most read story online was “Escondido event to take a knee for racial justice” which ran June 2 and talked of plans for an upcoming event where “City leaders, the police chief and interfaith leaders will join community residents to demonstrate commitment to racial justice and community unity in Escondido.” The peaceful event was planned at Escondido City Hall to remember the death of George Floyd.
The story “14 arrested in fentanyl ring” appeared inThe Times-Advocate on August 5, and told the story of 14 suspects arrested by Sheriff’s deputies and the Narcotics Task Force as part of an investigation into overdoses of fentanyl. It noted that earlier in the summer, deputies responded to about ten calls for service regarding suspected fentanyl overdoses in North County tribal communities.
The 12th most read story online was “Rosie’s Café owner is awake after life-threatening hit and run.” The story recounted that Kaitlyn Rose “Rosie” Pilsbury was awake and facing a long recovery. The manager of Rosie’s Café, Sandy Nalborski, said the 33-year-old Pillsbury aka “Rosie,” had awakened, “and it’s going to take a long time.” Nalborski noted that Pilsbury remained in intensive care at Palomar Medical Center. “She has rods down her left leg. Pins in her upper arm. Surgery on her right wrist. And the rest is on her left leg.”
Number 13 in terms of most read online story was “Welk Resorts to pay $3.5 M for misleading marketing, sales tactics.” Attorney General Becerra and San Diego District Attorney Stephan obtained up to $3,550,000 in restitution for consumers harmed by Welk Resort’s “misleading marketing and sales tactics,” said a press release from the California AG’s office on Wednesday. The settlement was the largest consumer relief package ever obtained by California for violations of California’s Timeshare Law.
Space is the final frontier, after all, and the reader interest shown in “Escondido man among first sworn in to join new Space Force” demonstrated that it still has a far-reaching appeal. The story noted that “Orange Glen High School graduate Benjamin Rigoberto Lopez of Escondido September 1, 2020, became one of the first people to be inducted into the United States Space Force at Vandenberg Air Force Base.”
“Doctor arrested for sexual assault” was the 15th most read online story. It relayed that “On Saturday, March 28th, 2020, a female victim reported to the Escondido Police Department she had been sexually assaulted by her physician, Dr. Leng Thai Ky, a 40 year old anesthesiologist from Poway, while she was unconscious.” The story continued, “EPD detectives investigated the case throughout the weekend, gathering further evidence of the assault, and developed probable cause to arrest Ky. On Monday morning, March 30th, with the assistance of the U.S. Marshall’s Fugitive Task Force, Ky was taken into custody.”
“Crime spree ends with attempted homicide” was the 16th most read TA article online for 2020. It ran May 18. In it we learned about Timothy Alvarado (22-years-old from La Mesa) who was released from the Vista jail after serving the remainder of his sentence on a burglary conviction. Beginning in early May, Alvarado embarked on a crime spree in Escondido that ended with him stabbing a man in the neck before finally being brought to ground by officers.
The March 27 story “Escondido fire seeks volunteers” told about the
Escondido Fire Department Support Volunteer program seeking men and women 50 and over to provide incident support and assist Escondido Fire in daily operational duties.
“Escondido bans smoking at outdoor dining areas, sidewalks,” the 18th most read story, sparked interest with the fact that “the Escondido City Council voted unanimously to move forward with an ordinance prohibiting smoking and vaping in outdoor dining areas, public places including sidewalks, and public events such as parades.” The story appeared in March.
“Fairy shrimp are real, and have been found in Escondido” was no big fish story, or even a fairy tale. The June 12 story told how “Escondido Creek Conservancy recently discovered Fairy Shrimp (Branchinecta lindahli) at the Mountain Meadow Preserve near Hidden Meadows.”
It added, “This elusive species is fairly uncommon in San Diego County due to the loss of preferred habitat—vernal pools. And while they won’t grant you three wishes—most vernal pools in San Diego have been destroyed by urban development—making their discovery quite magical!”
The 20th most read story was the feel good piece: “ECF to light Charity Arch in honor of first responders” that appeared on April 11. It continued, “The Escondido Community Foundation (ECF), an affiliate of The San Diego Foundation, announced that it will quietly light the 40-foot by 108-foot welcome arch over Grand Avenue at Centre City Parkway on April 11 at 7:30pm in honor of first responders, as a beacon of hope. The arch, named “The Giving Arch” is in recognition of the generosity and community spirit of Escondido residents. The design of The Giving Arch reflects the architectural lines of Escondido City Hall and the philanthropic spirit of the community and will welcome both residents and visitors to Escondido.”