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A look back at News 13's top stories of 2017

Thousands gathered in Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville for the Solar Eclipse Festival on August 21, 2017. Asheville experienced 99.2 percent obscuration at the peak of this eclipse. During peak, the temperature dropped, street lights came on and the sounds of crickets chirping could be heard. (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

As 2017 comes to a close, News 13 looks back at some of the top local stories from the year.

January

The year began with protests. Thousands gathered for the Women's March on Asheville the day after President Trump was inaugurated.

February

On February 27, Montreat College track coach Britten Olinger was hit by an accused drunk driver in Black Mountain. He suffered a severed spinal cord, which paralyzed him from the chest down.

However, his progress and determination has inspired the mountains.

March

On March 30, North Carolina's so-called "bathroom bill" was rolled back. Lawmakers repealed House Bill 2 (HB2) with the passage of House Bill 142.

The new law allows transgender people to use the bathroom of their choice. However, it blocks local governments from creating nondiscrimination ordinances through 2020.

April

On April 27, Robert Jason Owens pleaded guilty in the high-profile murder case of J.T. and Cristie Codd and their unborn child.

Owens was sentenced to nearly 60 years behind bars for the gruesome 2015 deaths.

May

Wicked Weed, one of Asheville's most popular breweries, faced backlash after the company was bought by Anheuser-Busch.

After the announcement, dozens of breweries pulled out of Wicked Weed's charity fundraiser.

June

Asheville made national headlines when News 13's cameras captured a chaotic scene in a Walmart parking lot. Our cameras were rolling when a man was struck by an SUV in the Walmart parking lot in Asheville.

The video has now been viewed millions of times.

July

A five-day manhunt that spanned multiple counties ended with a heartbreaking discovery. Investigators say Philip Stroupe II kidnapped and killed Thomas Bryson while on-the run from authorities.

Convicted murderer Robert Jason Owens made headlines again in July when he was indicted for murder in the 17-year-old cold case of Zebb Quinn.

Quinn disappeared in 2000. Owens was the last person to see him, and was previously a person of interest in the case.

August

The Great American Solar Eclipse cast its shadow on the mountains and Upstate in August.

The celestial event brought thousands to the Carolinas to see totality.

September

Two people were killed and a boy was hurt after a truck smashed into a wagon train in Haywood County.

Jason Messer died at the scene, and Boney Summey and his 12-year-old grandson Chase were critically injured. Summey later succumbed to his injures.

October

After a months-long showdown, the deadline for Mission Hospital and Blue Cross Blue Shield to negotiate a contract came and went, causing Mission Hospital to be "out of network" for BCBS patients.

Two months later, the companies finally resolved the dispute.

Also in October, Buncombe County officials revealed now-former county manager Wanda Greene issued controversial paid incentives to 11 people -- including herself. Greene is under federal investigation for fraud.

She retired July 1.

There was also a bomb scare at Asheville Regional Airport. A mason jar filled with ammonium nitrate with an alarm clock was left on the curb.

Police said suspect Michael Estes said he was "preparing to fight a war on U.S. soil."

November

The escape of a Buncombe County inmate in south Asheville resulted in tense moments for the community. Michael Calloway escaped while at a doctor's visit.

News 13 was there when he was captured the next day in Biltmore Park.

Also in November, tragedy struck Weaverville, when 18-year-old Kayla Hensley was found murdered. Her younger brother was charged with killing her.

December

A surprising snow storm dumped nearly a foot of snow across much of the mountains.

Trees and power lines came crashing down, but people also made time to enjoy the powder.

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