NEW BERN, NC – As the year 2023 comes to a close, it’s time to reflect on some of the top stories that have captured headlines in Eastern North Carolina. From tragic plane crashes to environmental concerns, here’s a roundup of the year’s most noteworthy events in the region.
One of the most heartbreaking stories of the year was the settlement of wrongful death lawsuits for families of five passengers killed in an ENC plane crash. The accident, which occurred in February 2022 near Drum Inlet, claimed the lives of four adults and four Carteret County teenagers who attended East Carteret High School. Among the students lost were Jacob Taylor, Daily Shepherd, Kole McInnis, and Noah Styron.
Another environmental tragedy that made waves in the region was the death of a Gervais’ Beaked Whale in Emerald Isle. The necropsy revealed that the whale had ingested a plastic balloon, leading to its demise.
The year also saw the unfortunate deaths of three Marines found unresponsive in Hampstead, deemed to be consistent with carbon monoxide poisoning. Their identities were later confirmed to be Marine Corps Lance Corporal Tanner J. Kaltenberg, Marine Corps Lance Corporal Merax C. Dockery, and Marine Corps Lance Corporal Ivan R. Garcia.
In a separate incident, a 17-year-old boy tragically lost his life after being trapped under several feet of sand in Frisco. This happened as a result of being caught in a hole he dug behind the primary sand dunes.
Environmental concerns were evident as well, with the Croatan National Forest wildfire affecting the New Bern area, causing ash to fall and smoke to envelop the skies. The fire, which burned over 32,000 acres, drew attention to the challenges posed by wildfires in the region.
As the year draws to a close, these stories serve as a poignant reminder of the highs and lows experienced by the community in Eastern North Carolina. Despite the challenges faced, the region continues to persevere and support one another through these difficult times.