A lot happened this last year, and in our media-saturated world, it’s easy to forget news stories even just days after they happened. So, here’s a quick look back at some of the biggest news stories of the year — from Jayme Closs freeing herself from her kidnapper to President Donald Trump holding a rally in downtown Minneapolis.

After 88 Days, Jayme Closs Found

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One of the biggest local news stories of the year happened just 10 days into it. After being held captive for 88 days, Jayme Closs freed herself from the man who killed her parents and abducted her. Without coat or gloves, she left her kidnapper’s cabin, braving the January cold in search of help in a rural Wisconsin town. A woman walking her dog recognized the 13-year-old who’d been sought by law enforcement across the country for months, and finally the search was over. Shortly after police spoke with Jayme, her kidnapper, Jake Patterson, was arrested. He is now serving a life sentence. Jayme says that although the unthinkable happened to her, her spirit remains unbroken.

Thousands Lose Power Amid Arctic Blast

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An arctic blast late January sent temperatures plummeting so low that the U.S. Postal Service stopped mail service. With wind chill factors colder than 50 below zero in many areas, frostbite threatened to damage exposed skin in just minutes. The cold was particularly threatening for thousands of people in the Twin Cities who lost power on one of the season’s coldest nights. Residents wore their winter clothing all night or sought shelter at friends’ homes as Xcel Energy crews worked to restore power.

Snowiest February Ever Recorded In The Twin Cities

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The snow didn’t really start falling last winter until February, but once it started, it didn’t let up. Storm after storm dumped more than 30 inches on the Twin Cities by mid-month, breaking the former month-long record of 26.5 inches set back in 1962. After that, more snow still kept falling, making February 2019 one of the top 10 snowiest months in Minnesota history. Here’s to hoping for a bit less snow this coming February.

Man Shoots School Bus Driver On I-35W

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Amid one of those February snowstorms, a minor crash on Interstate 35W in Minneapolis ended in gunfire, with a man shooting the driver of the school bus that grazed his car. No child on the bus was harmed, and although the driver was shot in the head, he survived. The shooter, Kenneth Lilly, said he acted in self-defense, but surveillance video showed no threat was posed to him. At his sentencing, in which he was given 86 months in prison, Lilly admitted he “overreacted.”

Boy Thrown From Mall Of America Balcony

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A parent’s nightmare: Out of the blue, a stranger takes hold of a child and throws them off a ledge. That’s what happened in April at the Mall of America, leaving a 5-year-old boy fighting for his life. The story horrified people across the nation. Thankfully, the boy was able to recover, and was released from the hospital months later. The person responsible was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.

Minnesota Model Makes Big Waves

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From St. Cloud to the biggest runways of the fashion world, Halima Aden’s star is just continuing to rise. In the spring, the 22-year-old made history as she was the first model to wear a burkini in Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit issue. “To grow up to live the American dream [and] to come back to Kenya and shoot for SI in the most beautiful parts of Kenya – I don’t think that’s a story that anybody could make up,” Aden told Sports Illustrated during her shoot. Aden was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and grew up in St. Cloud. She’s been making headlines since 2016, when she was the first fully-covered Muslim woman to compete in the Miss Minnesota pageant.

Ilhan Omar Vows To Be A ‘Nightmare’ For President Trump

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Over the summer, President Donald Trump spent a lot of time tweeting about the group of four Democratic congresswomen of color known as “the Squad,” particularly Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. The president tweeted that the congresswomen should “go back” to where they came from, although only Omar was born outside the United States. In mid-July, the U.S. House voted to condemn the president’s tweet as racist. Days later, after supporters at a Trump rally chanted “Send her back, send her back!” in relation to Omar, the Somali-born congresswoman vowed to a “nightmare” to the president. “His nightmare is seeing a Somali immigrant refugee rise to Congress,” she said to supporters at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. “His nightmare is seeing the beautiful mosaic fabric of our country welcome someone like me as their member of Congress home to Minnesota. And so we are going to continue to be a nightmare to this president.”

11 Arrested, 18 Victims Recovered In Sex Trafficking Operation

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After a two-day operation in early July, 11 people were arrested in a Twin Cities undercover sex trafficking operation. Eighteen victims were also recovered and offered help through victim services. To report suspected trafficking or find victim resources closest to you, click here.

International Falls’ Temperature Breaks 121-Year-Old Record

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Minnesota’s extreme northern city of International Falls broke a record this summer. On July 30, temps dipped to 37 degrees, breaking the record (38 degrees) set back in 1898. The average temperature for that time is usually around the mid-50s! (And yes, it’s sad that Matt Brickman is no longer at WCCO-TV, but we wish him the best in New York!)

R. Kelly Charged In Hennepin County

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While sitting in a New York jail cell, disgraced singer R. Kelly learned he faced sex crimes charges in Minnesota. In August, he was charged with two counts of prostitution involving a minor from an incident 18 years earlier. He’s accused of giving a 17-year-old girl money to take off her clothes and dance for him. He was a no-show in court for an initial appearance. He will be ordered to appear in court in Minnesota after his federal case in Illinois.

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Fmr. Viking Barry Bennett & Wife Found Murdered In Long Prairie; Son Arrested After Fleeing Country

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Sixty-three-year-old Barry Bennett and his wife, Carol, died at their home in August. The couple’s 22-year-old son was accused of shooting both victims and fleeing the state with a large amount of their money. He was later arrested in Mexico and extricated back to Minnesota where he awaits trial. He’s expected back in court on Feb. 2, 2020. Barry played in the NFL as a defensive lineman, including one year with the Minnesota Vikings in 1988.

MDH Confirms MN’s 1st Known Case Of Vaping-Related Death

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The vaping sickness epidemic that swept the country over the summer struck Minnesota in September with the death of a Minnesotan. At the time, the death was just one of only four vaping-related deaths in the entire United States. Later in October, two more Minnesota deaths were linked to vaping. All victims were over 50. In November, the CDC announced that the compound, vitamin E acetate, was a strong culprit in the cases. Vitamin E acetate has only recently been used as a thickener in vaping fluid, particularly in black market vape cartridges.

Man Fatally Shot By Police After Livestreaming Pursuit

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A 30-year-old man was shot and killed by police in Richfield following a chase that began in Edina. Brian Quinones of Richfield live-streamed the chase before he was fatally shot after police say he confronted officers with a knife after exiting the car. Protests followed the shooting, saying police could have handled the incident differently.

20 Arrested, 18 Charged In Brutal Mpls. Beatings & Robberies

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After brutal attacks in downtown Minneapolis were caught on surveillance tape showing groups of people attacking and robbing victims, 20 people were arrested with 18 were charged. Police said during a three-week stretch in August, 48 robberies were reported in downtown with 23 happening in one week. Police said the criminals in the recent cases “finesse” the victim. They search for easy targets, typically someone who is intoxicated, alone, and looking at their phone. After the arrests, police said robberies dropped to just three in one week in early September.

President Trump As ‘Keep America Great’ Rally In Minneapolis

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President Donald Trump brought a campaign rally into downtown Minneapolis in October, and it was certainly accompanied by its fair share of headlines and controversy. From Mayor Jacob Frey trading blows with the president on Twitter, to demanding the Trump campaign pay for security costs, to Minneapolis police being barred from wearing uniforms to the rally, to the Minneapolis police union’s response to that, and much more. Protests outside the rally were largely peaceful, but there were tense moments and MPD officers did need to use force to control the crowd after some skirmishes broke out. At the rally, Trump vowed he’d win Minnesota in 2020.

6-Year-Old Found Safe After Going Missing In Cornfield

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A 6-year-old boy went missing near Becker in mid-October and it captured the attention of the entire state. After a massive search involving over 600 volunteers, Ethan Haus was found around 2 a.m. not far from his home in Palmer Township. He was missing for nearly 10 hours. Besides being cold overnight, the boy was otherwise OK. His interview with WCCO’s Christiane Cordero was also very adorable.

Young Hunter With Down Syndrome Bags His 1st Buck

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There was a hunt to remember in November. That’s when 19-year-old Pierce Pennaz, who has Down syndrome, bagged his first buck in Jackson County. Thanks to a new law, he was able to go hunting with his dad. And while it wasn’t a trophy buck, for father and son it was still a treasure. The video of Pierce’s first deer spread across Facebook.

Minnesotans Dig Out From Pre-Thanksgiving Snow Storm

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A major snowstorm caused traffic headaches for many … the day before Thanksgiving. Some areas, like Brooklyn Center, got 8.5 inches of snow! School was also canceled for many students.

2 Children, 2 Adults Killed In Apparent Triple Murder-Suicide

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At the beginning of December, tragedy struck in south Minneapolis. That’s when two children, ages 8 and 11, were shot and killed by their father, David Schladetzky. He also shot and killed his ex-wife before killing himself. The two were recently divorced. Trying to understand how someone could kill their family members, especially kids, weighed on so many in the neighborhood. For those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts, there is help available at the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Call 1-800-273-8255.

3 MN Nat’l Guard Soldiers Killed In Black Hawk Helicopter Crash

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During a maintenance test flight, a Black Hawk helicopter with three Minnesota National Guard soldiers lost contact with air traffic controllers at St. Cloud Army Aviation Facility. After 90 minutes of being missing, the chopper was found crashed, tangled in trees on a farm in Kimball about 16 miles southwest of St. Cloud. Gov. Tim Walz, a former Minnesota National Guard soldier, ordered flags at half-staff that weekend. The soldiers have since been identified. An investigation is still looking into what caused the crash.