PORTLAND, Ore. – From a natural wonder that captivated the nation, to a devastating wildfire that threatened beloved landmarks in the Columbia River Gorge, 2017 had its share of spectacular news stories.
Here are the 10 most-read stories by KGW viewers in 2017.
Warning: Some of the stories contain graphic details.
A man who had been deported 20 times broke into a woman's home and sexually assaulted her in July. He was caught and arrested after assaulting another woman.
The suspect, Sergio Jose Martinez, had a long history of illegally entering the United States. His most recent deportation was in November of 2016. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration detainer against Martinez, asking authorities to notify them before releasing Martinez to allow ICE to take him into custody. But that never happened, which sparked a fierce debate on social media.
Multnomah County leaders and Sheriff Mike Reese wrote a letter to the community saying, “The Sheriff's Office does not hold people in county jails on ICE detainers or conduct any immigration enforcement actions.”
Martinez was convicted of kidnapping, robbery and sex abuse, and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
A vision of a community built around communication and technology with autonomous vehicles caught on with KGW readers this year.
An investment firm owned by Bill Gates spent $80 million to start the development of the new community near Phoenix, Arizona.
"Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model," said Belmont Properties.
There's no word on when construction will begin.
Seven years after his disappearance, the search for Kyron Horman is still very active. New documents from investigators showed they're still working the case, and crews quietly conducted ground searches in connection with the investigation. Kyron's parents said they were encouraged.
Meanwhile, A Multnomah County grand jury was empaneled to take evidence in the case.
Kyron Horman disappeared from Skyline School in Northwest Portland on June 4, 2010, but for many, the hope that he'll be found remains strong.
“I've had that dream of Kyron coming home. It's so vivid,” said Kyron's mother, Desiree Young. “I'm hoping our day is soon.”
Yes, we know this story was published in 2016, but it remains one of the most popular stories in the history of KGW.com. Eighty-six inmates shared the biggest deterrents and what didn't stop them from breaking into homes. They answered anonymously to 17 questions detailing how they broke in, when the crime occurred and what they were looking for.
If you haven't read it yet, their answers could help you keep your home safe from burglaries.
It was a horrific story that was hard to believe. A man, covered in blood and carrying his mother's head, walked into a grocery store in Estacada and stabbed an employee.
Other employees tackled the suspect and held him down until police arrived.
About 20 minutes after the stabbing, a 911 caller reported finding a woman's body in her home about 10 miles from the store. It was the suspect's mother.
The store employee survived the attack.
A pregnant giraffe named April took the nation by storm.
And there will be a contest to decide his name!Posted by KGW-TV on Saturday, April 15, 2017
For weeks, people were glued to a livestream at Animal Adventure Park, hoping to catch the giraffe birth live. A spokesman with the park answered many burning questions about April, and the story (along with the captivating livestream) took off.
Hundreds of thousands of acres burned in Oregon and Washington during a devastating wildfire season, which threatened homes, closed highways and burned several natural treasures.
The most notable fire of the year was the Eagle Creek Fire, which authorities believe was sparked by a 15-year-old boy playing with fireworks. As the fire spread, it threatened hundreds of hikers, closed Interstate 84 and torched many beloved scenic areas in the Columbia River Gorge. It became the top wildfire priority in the country.
"It's clear that fire has hit our state like a wrecking ball,” said U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden.
August's spectacular total solar eclipse did not disappoint. For many, the hysteria leading up to the eclipse included planning around a predicted traffic nightmare. The Oregon Department of Transportation said the eclipse would cause the biggest traffic event in the history of the state. One million people were expected in the path of totality.
As ashes rained down on the Portland metro area during wildfire season, a warning about damaging cars proved very helpful.
Ash on your car? Don't brush it off. Use water. Ash will scratch glass and paint. Tell your friends. #EagleCreekFirePosted by Katherine Cook (KGW) on Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Firefighters said wiping ash off cars could damage the paint job. They recommended washing and drying cars instead.
The Aug. 21 eclipse captivated the nation. An interactive map by NASA showed eclipse watchers the start and end times of the event for every city in its path. It even shared times of the partial eclipse in cities like Portland that were not in the path of totality.