Thursday, December 29, 2011
7 News Features: 7's Top 7 - National
Wild weather, sex scandals in politics, and some closure for the King of Pop. It's 7's top 7, the national headlines of 2011.
WSVN -- Mother Nature made her mark on 2011.
Man: "Hell. That's exactly what it is, been through hell. No other way to describe it."
Monster tornadoes creating hell on earth in the spring.
Woman: "I got in the hall closet, and about that time, we felt it pick the house up."
One twister after another, sweeping through six southern states, carving out trails of destruction and killing hundreds.
Man: "There it is. There is."
Weeks later, a massive tornado destroyed the small city of Joplin, Missouri.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon: "It's total devastation, with the hospital down, the high school down."
More than 160 people died, making it one of the deadliest tornadoes in history.
Mother Nature also shook things up on the East Coast with a 5.8-magnitude earthquake.
Woman: "I just looked out the window, I saw the building shake."
The rare quake rattled nerves from the Carolinas to New England.
Tourists atop the Washington Monument made a run for it as parts of the building began to crumble.
Within days, the East Coast took another blow as Hurricane Irene barreled through and dumped devastating rain.
Gov. Chris Christie, (R) New Jersey: "We're seeing record flooding levels across the northern part of our state."
A storm of controversy occurred at two northeast college campuses.
Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 14-year period.
Jerry Sandusky: "Well, I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them, and I have touched their legs without intent of sexual contact."
A grand jury report says college officials and coach Joe Paterno likely knew of the allegations and failed to notify police.
Coach Paterno was forced to step down.
Syracuse University assistant men's basketball coach Bernie Fine was fired after he was also charged with abusing boys.
Tragedy in Tucson.
911 Call: "We need more than one ambulance. There's more than one person down."
Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents outside a grocery store.
Man: "He ran into the crowd and when he got to her, he started shooting. He wound up shooting 19 people."
Six were killed and 12 others injured.
Giffords made a miraculous recovery, even returning to Capitol Hill to cast her vote to raise the debt ceiling.
Mark Kelly: "Welcome aboard the space station."
Another victory for Giffords: Her astronaut husband, Mark Kelly, commanded the last launch of the space shuttle Endeavour.
American Airlines hit turbulent times. The airline filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, blaming high labor and fuel costs in a weak economy.
Thomas Horton, CEO, American Airlines: "The last decade has been extraordinarily hard in the U.S. airline industry. All of our largest competitors have taken this path, some more than once."
2011 was also a year of political scandals.
New York representative Anthony Weiner was forced to step down after admitting to sexting racy photos of himself to several women.
Anthony Weiner: "Today, I'm announcing my resignation from Congress."
Man: "Yeah! Bye-bye, pervert!"
And two-time presidential candidate John Edwards was accused of using campaign funds to hide his mistress during the 2008 democratic presidential race.
John Edwards: "There is no question that I have done wrong, but I did not break the law, and I never even thought I was breaking the law."
Michael Jackson's doctor Conrad Murray was found guilty of causing the singer's death.
Woman: "We the jury find him guilty of involuntary manslaughter."
The jury made that decision after listening to hours of testimony, including a heartbreaking phone message from Jackson.
Michael Jackson: "When people leave my show, I want them to say, 'I've never seen nothing like this in my life.'"
Murray was sentenced to four years in prison. Jackson's family finally finds some peace.
Jermaine Jackson: "Justice was served, yes."
LaToya Jackson: "Wonderful. Absolutely justice was served. Michael was watching over us."
Craig Stevens: "On Friday, I'll take a look back at the international stories that made headlines this year."