CBC Sudbury's top stories of 2015 were anything but ordinary

CBC Sudbury's top stories of 2015 are a collection of diverse stories — everything from epic selfies to the discovery of decades-old plane wreckage, to a teenager named Isis.
After releasing this bird from a trap, Sudbury brothers Neil and Michael Fletcher posed for a selfie — and landed themselves the honour of being CBC Sudbury's top news story of 2015. (Ann Fletcher/Facebook)
Our web writer, Wendy Bird, joined us for a chat about the most popular web stories at the CBC Sudbury website for 2015. 7:21

CBC Sudbury's top stories of 2015 are a collection of diverse stories — everything from epic selfies to the discovery of decades-old plane wreckage, to a teenager named Isis.

What the stories all had in common, however, was their ability to get CBC News readers talking about and sharing some interesting issues that touch a chord in almost everyone.

Read on to find out what our web analytics told us were our top 10 stories of the year:

A four-year-old boy in North Bay, Ont., ended up in an emergency room after a dentist installed a 'hay rake' in his mouth. The device is meant to deter children from sucking their thumb.

10) Anti-thumb-sucking device controversy

Earlier this year, a North Bay, Ont., dentist was handed a warning after a four-year-old patient nearly died.

The Health Professions Appeal and Review Board's decision did not name the dentist. 

"Dr. H," as he's referred to, was standing in for a colleague on leave when he saw the boy in August 2012.

The child came to the office with his mother, who reported that her son had a thumb-sucking problem.

After discussing it with the boy's mother, Dr. H decided to affix an anti-thumb-sucking device into the top of the child's mouth.

A version of the device is known as a "hay rake"  — a spiky, pronged device that makes thumb-sucking unpleasant.

The report from the board doesn't specify what kind of anti thumb-sucking device was used in this case.

According to the report, a dental hygienist installed the device on Sept. 18. The dentist then "reviewed intraoral photographs of the patient's mouth and the placement of the appliance" before he signed off on the work.

But less than two days after the device was put in — the boy was taken to the emergency room at the North Bay Regional Health Centre.

According to hospital staff, "the patient was significantly dehydrated ... and [in an] altered mental state. The patient required intravenous resuscitation for failure to thrive."

The hospital report says the boy had not been eating or drinking, had not been sleeping and had been throwing up.

The dentist and hygienist said they were told nothing about the lack of sleep or vomiting.  

According to the report, "special arrangements were made ... so that [the hygienist] could attend [the hospital] and remove the appliance from the patient's mouth, which she did in the early afternoon [of the same day]." 

The boy was released from hospital two days later.

Roger Belanger shown here with his widow, Justine, and their two sons. Belanger died in a car crash on July 28 and the GoFundMe account set up for his family has had the money taken from it. (Submitted: Belanger family)

9) Alberta RCMP investigate $24K missing from GoFundMe trust

RCMP investigated after donations to help the widow and two children of a dead Sudbury man were taken from an online crowdfunding account.

Truck driver Roger Bélanger died in a car crash on July 28. Within days, a friend from Alberta offered to set up the campaign to raise money for the family the 29-year-old man left behind, Bélanger's sister said.

A link to the online trust appeared in Bélanger's obituary and, within a week, 176 people had donated to the memorial fund.

The family began to grow suspicious, Roxanne Bélanger said, as time passed and the account administrator had not transferred the funds to Bélanger's wife, Justine. When the family spoke with staff at GoFundMe, they learned that the money was missing from the account.

Roxanne Bélanger said the company told them that the money was withdrawn in 22 installments.

GoFundMe has since frozen the account and the Bélanger family are asking those who donated to it to ask for a refund through their credit card companies.

"It proves the point that it is too easy for people to take advantage of other people who are grieving," Roxanne Bélanger said. "There needs to be more safeguards in place when people set up these kinds of accounts."

NDP MP Claude Gravelle discusses the latest derailment in Gogama, Ont., the second in the area in the last few weeks 4:15

8) Gogama derailment shows feds need to act on train safety, MPPs say

Earlier this year, as crews continued to tackle a fire set off after 35 CN Rail cars carrying oil went off the tracks just outside of Gogama, Ont., the province's transportation minister and his caucus colleague went after the federal government for its rail safety record.​

Two different CN oil tanker trains near Gogama derailed within a three week period. More than one million litres of crude oil were spilled and caught on fire. No one was injured.

"The federal government, responsible for rail safety, must do more to protect our communities and the environment," tweeted Glenn Thibeault, Liberal MPP for Sudbury and parliamentary assistant to Ontario's environment minister.

"The rail cars involved are new models, compliant with the latest federal regulations. Yet they still failed to prevent this incident," Thibeault said in a statement.

Nickel Belt New Democrat MP Claude Gravelle said he didn't want to get into that debate while visiting Gogama.

"Well, that's a different discussion for a different day, but there certainly are some concerns about pipelines. But there are concerns about rail cars. What's the safest? Accidents are accidents."

A standoff in Timmins earlier this year ended without incident. (Martine Laberge/Radio-Canada)

7) A stakeout to remember — or not

Police in Timmins, Ont., who had staked out a perimeter around a Canadian Tire store for much of the day following a break-in that had targeted weapons, said the suspect was not in the store and likely hadn't been there since soon after the break-in.

Police asked the public to take precautions as they believe firearms were stolen during the break-in.

The incident began after police responded to a call about 4:30 a.m. regarding a break-in at the Canadian Tire on Riverside Drive. 

For hours, barricades were in place as police converged on the area, though it now appears the suspect escaped early in the morning.

A release of noxious gas from the Copper Cliff smelter had people closing their windows and doors earlier this year. (Erik White/CBC News)

6) Vale smelter leak

An emergency situation at Vale's Copper Cliff smelter in Sudbury, Ont., was declared earlier this year, after two gases combined to form a toxic mist during a cleaning at an acid cooling tower.

The gases were nitrous oxide and nitrous dioxide, a combination with the potential to cause respiratory issues. No other injuries were reported. Erik White of CBC News tweeted the highest reading of nitrous oxide outside of the smelter was below the limit.

However, Vale, the mining company responsible for the incident, said there were four minor injuries reported last night due to exposure to the acid but were unrelated to this morning's repairs.

The emergency was called in an abundance of caution before being downgraded to a Level 1 emergency, officials said.

Ontario teen Isis King faces bullying, and Facebook ban over her name 2:03

5) My name is Isis — get over it

A high-school student from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is fed up with harassment she's received about her birth name, which hit a new low when she got barred from using it on Facebook.

Her name is Isis King and she's been taking undeserved flak because of the similarities her first name has to the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

King said some people have told her they find her name offensive, that it's horrible or that she shouldn't have it at all.

Some of this has come from people at her high school, but she's also been served with a heavy dose of online abuse. 

"They'll call me a terrorist, or a freak, and say I don't belong and stuff like that," King told CBC News in an interview.

Paul and Suzanne Joanis's plane was reported missing on April 28, 1992. (Martine Laberge/CBC)

4) Plane that crashed in 1992 found in northern Ontario

The family of the couple who went missing after their plane crashed in northern Ontario more than 23 years ago is relieved the wreckage has finally been found.

James Bay OPP said the wreckage is from the single-engine plane reported missing on April 28, 1992. It was found in a remote area near the town of Kapuskasing.

At the time, the plane's occupants — Paul and Suzanne Joanis — were travelling to Hearst, Ont., from Toronto's Buttonville Airport after a business trip, said Achilles Joanis, Paul Joanis's brother.

"It was a bad night — wet rain, windy and everything — and he didn't make it to Hearst," he said. "The Kapuskasing airport had the contact on him and the last place was about the area they found [the wreckage]."

Ashley Kerckhoff made a compromise with bylaw officers to cut the grass around her wildflower beds — but then someone mowed down her entire front yard when she was away. (Olivia Stefanovich/CBC)

​3) Woman upset someone mowed her lawn without asking

A woman in the Sudbury, Ont. area was shocked earlier this year when she came home to find someone had mowed her front yard without her permission — destroying her wildflowers.

Ashley Kerckhoff says she had received a complaint from the city about the length of her grass a few weeks earlier. She told CBC News that at the time, she made a compromise with bylaw officers to cut the grass around her flower beds, where "damsel flies, dragon flies, butterflies, bees, [and] all different insects [were] just buzzing around."

Kerckhoff said city officials told her they did not cut her lawn, and she won't speculate on who did.

"I was furious. No one has the right to decide where in my yard should be lawn and where should be garden," she said.

"I get if I lived in a subdivision with small lots that butted up against each other, but we have a 30-foot buffer of bush between us and our only neighbour. So our lawns don't meet."

Several tanker cars caught fire after a Canadian National Railway train carrying crude oil derailed in northern Ontario 0:58

2) Train carrying crude oil derails near Gogama, Ont.

Several tanker cars caught fire after a Canadian National Railway train carrying crude oil derailed in northern Ontario, prompting officials to advise nearby residents to stay indoors and avoid consuming water from local sources.

CN said its crew reported the derailment to emergency services in the wee hours of March 7. Police said the train was 30 to 40 cars in length and 10 cars went off the track four kilometres northwest of Gogama, Ont. There were no reports of injuries.

Some of the rail cars that caught fire entered the Mattagami River System, CN and police said. This was the second derailment near Gogama in as many months.

After releasing this bird from a trap, Sudbury brothers Neil and Michael Fletcher posed for a selfie. (Ann Fletcher/Facebook)

1) Brothers save bald eagle, take epic selfie

It's not every day that you get to take a picture with a bald eagle, but two brothers in Sudbury did just that after rescuing the bird from a hunting trap on day in late November. 

Neil Fletcher's brother Michael posted a picture on Facebook of the pair grinning in a selfie with the unmistakable white-headed bird — "Canada's largest bird of prey", according to Canadian Geographic. 

Neil Fletcher told CBC News he and his brother were out hunting when they noticed several ravens circling nearby. 

As the pair got closer, they discovered a bald eagle with its foot stuck in a hunting trap.


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