Sharks, bridge and accidents top headlines in 2019

Tina Harbuck
The Mid-Bay Bridge will be closed overnight May 1 as permanent repairs are made.[FILE PHOTO | DESTIN LOG]

With Destin nearly surrounded by water, the Gulf of Mexico to the south and the Choctawhatchee Bay to the north, it’s no surprise that the majority of the top 10 stories of 2019 in The Destin Log dealt with water in some way or the other.

Here’s a look at the top 10 headlines that drew reader interest in 2019.

1. UPDATE: Mid-Bay Bridge closed in both directions (46,106 page views)

The Florida Department of Transportation indefinitely closed the Mid-Bay Bridge (State Road 293) in both directions for emergency repairs in early January.

The closure was placed after a routine inspection of the Mid-Bay Bridge where FDOT inspectors found corrosion on post-tensioning tendons, a pre-stressed steel cable inside the bridge that reinforces concrete. Post-tensioning tendons are one of the internal support systems placed inside the bridge. There are multiple tendons in each span of the Mid-Bay Bridge.

The Mid-Bay Bridge, a 3.6-mile two lane toll bridge spanning the Choctawhatchee Bay, was built in 1993 and averages 22,000 vehicles per day.

2. Luke Bryan among a busy Crab Island crowd on Fourth (VIDEO) - (39,010 page views)

Crab Island received thousands of visitors throughout Independence Day, but one visitor stood out — Luke Bryan.

The famous country singer posted on his Instagram account the view of clear blue water surrounded by boats while his wife, Caroline Boyer, sang the words to country singer Luke Combs’ song, “Beer Never Broke My Heart.”

“Happy Fourth,” Bryan said in the social media video.

3. ‘Crazy’ shark draws Okaloosa beachgoers’ attention (PHOTOS, VIDEO) (31,740 page views)

For 30 years, ever since she was a teenager, Mindy Hanback has been coming to the beach. She’s always known there were sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, but a Wednesday afternoon in July was the first time she actually saw one.

And it wasn’t just cruising deeper waters. It was about 20 yards off shore with its head out of the water, opening its mouth as it faced a line of people on the shore.

“That was crazy,” said Mindy, whose son Matt Hanback, actually captured the moment on video. “You could hear everybody kind of gasp when it happened.”

4. Incredible video shows shark circling swimmer in Gulf (28,326 page views)

A viral video shot in Panama City Beach shows a shark checking out a swimmer in the Gulf of Mexico along Panama City Beach.

Stan Battles filmed the encounter from his 28th floor balcony at Tidewater Resort in late May.

Battles watched the shark loop in figure 8′s through the muck and sea grass for about two hours. It mostly stayed hidden, he said, darting back into the cloudy water if it ventured into the clearer space.

Until the woman swam by.

“The woman swims directly over this thing,” Battles said. “Directly over it.”

And that’s when Battles started recording. The video shows the woman swimming along, blissfully unaware that she’s picked up a follower. The shark breaks its pattern and takes a wide circle to check her out, staying a good distance away but definitely curious. At one point, about midway through the video, the shark swims too far ahead and then turns back heading directly for her, lazily snaking through the water.

5. Tourist who drowned at Crab Island identified (25,527 page views)

Thanh Bui of Austin, Texas, 43, drowned in early July at Crab Island.

Bui turned 43 on the day that he died.

He was operating a 30-foot pontoon boat that held seven adults and seven children, according to preliminary information released by FWC.

Bui jumped off the boat to set the anchor in what appeared to be shallow water, lost his footing and was unable to swim, according to preliminary information.

6. Sharks pose for close-up near Okaloosa Island (PHOTOS) (22,356 page views)

Von Virgin snapped close-up shots of two sharks in mid-July about a mile and a half from the Okaloosa Island Pier.

The sharks, which were swimming close to the shore, drew attention from beachgoers as one shark peeked its head out of the water and opened its mouth while facing people on the shore.

The type of shark was not been identified, but Okaloosa Island Beach Safety Director Huffnagle said bull and tiger sharks have been seen near his beaches this season.

7. Local woman critically injured in boating accident (21,105 page views)

Lee Ann Dorn, 55, was flown to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center in late May after getting entangled in a boat propeller off a Destin beach.

According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission accident form, the boat was moving when Dorn and several other passengers jumped off.

She went off the back of the boat, striking the outboard engine propeller, which cut her severely. Other passengers on the boat had to rescue her, the report said.

8. 2 Destin restaurants shut down because of roaches, flies (19,810 page views)

Live roaches and flies were just two of 24 total violations that temporarily shut down Poppy’s Crazy Lobster and Hammerhead’s Bar and Grille in Baytowne Wharf in early August.

Investigators from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation found approximately 10 small flying insects in the kitchen/wash area and about the same number of roaches coming from the front plate of the cook line drawers during the Aug. 1 inspection.

Investigators said the roaches were difficult to count because they were moving, according to a report.

There were about a dozen basic violations, including dead roaches and a hole in the ceiling.

9. South Walton helicopter flights a mystery (18,904 page views)

A series of three July 4 helicopter landings and takeoffs near the Ventana Dunes community off State Road 30A in South Walton County prompted a couple calls to the Sheriff’s Office from concerned residents.

The flights, each of which included a number of passengers who boarded from a road in a commercial construction site, apparently were isolated to that one day, according to one of the residents.

Kerry King, who has lived in Ventana Dunes for more than two years, said she called the Sheriff’s Office after the second of three landings at the nearby construction site. According to King, the helicopter flew low over the area before it landed, creating considerable noise and blowing sand onto her porch.

10. Dorian forecast to dry out the Emerald Coast (17,235 page views)

The only expected impact to the Emerald Coast from powerful Hurricane Dorian is a big batch of dry air, according to Da’Vel Johnson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Mobile, Alabama.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 185 mph, the tropical cyclone made landfall on the Abaco Islands in the Bahamas and was crawling westward at only 3 mph shortly before noon Sunday.

Dorian was expected to track westward across the northern Bahamas through Monday night then turn northward and move to just off the coast of North Carolina through Thursday night, according to the NWS.