🔒 We asked our Local 4 team what stories they’ll remember from 2021. Here’s what they said

Taylor, Mich., players jog around the stadium with the World Series Champions banner after defeating Hamilton, Ohio, in the Little League World Series Championship baseball game in South Williamsport, Pa., Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Tom E. Puskar) (Tom E. Puskar, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Greetings, Insiders!

We hope the holiday stretch is going well. As we put a bow on another year of news, we asked our Local 4 team about their most memorable or favorite stories they covered this year. For Insiders only, here’s what they will remember from the past year.

Karen Drew: Mistakes at the morgue -- It started as a tip about one woman’s story from Romulus and turned into a web of families, bodies, and unanswered questions. This story is still evolving and we are still trying to hold people accountable. The dead should be treated with respect and their families deserve answers. Clearly that is NOT going on at the Wayne County Morgue. Our investigations have brought some change but more is needed so stay tuned in 2021. (Full coverage here)

Hank Winchester: The Help Me Hank team busted a lot of “bad guys” this year, but in one story we showed the real power of the good people in our community. After a tree trimmer ripped off a local woman, the team from Franco’s Tree Service came to the rescue and took down the problem tree for free. It’s acts of kindness like this that give me hope! (Check out the full story here)

Evrod Cassimy: My most memorable story involves Detroit Police and an unresponsive baby. The surveillance video shows two parents rushing into the nearby precinct with their lifeless child frantic for help. The officers all jumped in to help, eventually saving the child’s life by doing chest compressions and stopping traffic to take the child to the hospital. As a parent that resonated with me because it’s all of our worst nightmare but thankfully this story had a happy ending. (See the full story here)

Jason Colthorp: My favorite story of the year was Detroit’s only orchard— Detroit Farm & Cider— racing to beat an April frost by setting up fires all throughout the orchard. We helped blast out the call for help and it worked as people from all over dropped off wood to keep the fires burning all night and save their crop.

I’d also be remiss not to mention Oxford. Specifically the night of the vigil when confusion sparked more chaos and hundreds ran thinking there was another threat. We saw just how much healing is needed for this community. Despite the terrifying interruption, they regrouped for a moving vigil which epitomized #OxfordStrong.

Rod Meloni: The Royal Oak Shooting 30th Anniversary was my most memorable set of stories. It was sad to look back at the horror and yet inspiring based on the exclusive interview we did with Keith Cizewski’s widow who provided unique and uplifting perspective all these years later. (More here)

On par with that was covering the Oxford Shooting. To see how a community came together in its darkest hours; to see how so many did so much to help in the chaotic moment… like helping bandage a young shooting victim in a piano mover store; to hear the tear filled accounts of how these young children died needlessly and yet left an indelible mark on the town will stay with me always.

Mara MacDonald: My interview with Cyndy Canty about contracting Covid after taking part in the Moderna vaccine trial and the importance of boosters and being so careful about taking steroids if you do have Covid. Her willingness to tell her story made an impact.

Paul Gross: Without question, and especially pertinent given the recent tornado disaster down south, my personal most memorable story of the year was about the 125th anniversary of Michigan’s second deadliest tornado, which occurred on May 25th, 1896. It was also one of only four F5 tornadoes to hit our state. I spent five months researching old newspaper accounts to determine the twister’s path, then drove its path along Oakwood Road in northern Oakland County, visited two historical museums to see photographs of the aftermath, and interview one man who remembered his grandfather’s stories about the tornado. At one point, I was allowed to hold a postage stamp used to cancel mail at the old Oakwood Post Office, which was found decades later in a farmer’s field. The date on that stamp: May 25th, 1896. I shuddered as, at that moment, I had a tangible, personal connection to that horrific tornado. I consider this story to be one of the most important stories I’ve done in my thirty-nine years at Local 4.

Victor Williams: Of course it’s the Detroit Skateboarding story with Tony Hawk! Literally, a childhood dream come true. Close second would be the skateboarding story that got his attention to begin with.

Kim DeGiulio: I love when I do a story and can see immediate impact. Dave Portnoy of Barstool Sports gave Fredi the pizza man, a pizza place in Melvindale, one of the highest pizza reviews he’s ever given. I had to get there the next day to cover the impact. The place was packed with people lining up to get a slice. Besides serving great pizza, the owner of this pizza place also runs a foundation to raise money for sensory rooms in schools for children with autism. After my story aired, Dave Portnoy reposted my story on his social media accounts. Because of this exposure, Fredi the pizza man’s foundation received thousands of dollars of donations! It made me so happy! (Check it out here)

Brandon Roux: For me, it was the team from Taylor. I always enjoy the Little League World Series as someone who not only played the game but lived and breathed baseball all summer long as a kid. If we weren’t playing, we were watching the Chicago Cubs a little bit and listening to Harry Caray a lot. He would tell the craziest stories and pronounce Andres Galarraga name backwards all to absorb the inevitable boring stretches of every baseball game.

The Little League World Series is full of fun stories too and the first one I remember from this year was about one of the Taylor, Michigan players and his grandpa. Young mullet wearing Gavin Ulin had a thriving landscaping business that was now in jeopardy because he was on the road playing in the Great Lakes Regional tournament and then on to the big show in Williamsport, PA. The broadcast team then described how Gavin’s grandpa decided to handle the landscaping duties while his grandson played, won, and kept advancing. Grandpa was so busy covering for Gavin that the first game he was able to attend was the World Series Championship Game.

Of course you had the big bomber, Cam Thorning, and the clutch hitting of Jackson Surma. Plus the flame throwing Jakob Furkas and nobody pitched as swell as Ethan Van Belle. Each member of this terrific Taylor team came up big at one time or another against the greatest competition in the Country. The team won by blowing teams away, by coming from behind, by coming back after a tough loss to Hawaii, and I felt like these young men were offering life lessons they weren’t aware of because they were just playing. Well done boys! You made Michigan proud. (More on their win here)


You’ve got skills. Quiz yourself!

We’ve got a couple of end of the year quizzes you should try out -- see how well you remember the top headlines!

Good luck and have fun!



About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / ClickOnDetroit.com. He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.