The most clicked stories on WCNC.com in 2017
Author: Hank Lee
Published: 6:44 PM EST December 28, 2017
Updated: 5:06 PM EST December 29, 2017

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- With the calendar reaching the final week of 2017, we here at NBC Charlotte are looking back at the year that was on WCNC.com.

These stories range from a Harrisburg honors student who was suspended for her school's graduation over a dress code dispute to the tragic story of 3-year-old Mariah Woods, whose body was found near a creek in Pender County after several days of searching.


The most clicked stories on WCNC.com in 2017

Chapter 1

They blacked out at a Mexico resort. They woke up to a nightmare

The young woman behind the desk at the police station in Playa del Carmen toggled between her cellphone and computer, Snap Chatting with friends and scrolling Facebook, as she asked the young man from Boston whether he had ever enjoyed sex.

How that was relevant, he didn't know. He was at the police department in the small Mexican city south of Cancun to report that he had just been drugged and raped while receiving a massage at a world-renowned resort and spa.

Three months later, there was still no sign of justice; no indication Mexican police pursued the case. The despair and frustration he's facing are familiar to dozens of vacationers who have been victimized at upscale, all-inclusive Mexican resorts.

The harm is worsened when travelers quickly learn that catching criminals, filing a lawsuit and otherwise obtaining justice in Mexico is nearly impossible.

And that the U.S. Department of State does little or nothing to help them. Click here to continue reading the most popular story of 2017.

Chapter 2

Flight attendant saves passenger from human trafficking

An Alaska Airlines flight attendant trusted her instincts when something didn't feel right. She saved a young teenager from human trafficking.

Former flight attendant Nancy Rivard founded Airline Ambassadors International, an organization focused on providing humanitarian services by leveraging connections with airlines. One of their main focuses is training airline workers to spot victims of human trafficking.

According to NBC News, Alaska Airlines flight attendant Shelia Fedrick said she felt something was wrong when she saw a teen with greasy blonde hair on a flight from Seattle to San Francisco in early 2016. Fedrick noticed the teen, who appeared to be 14 or 15 years old, was traveling with a much older man. When she tried to engage him in conversation, he reportedly became defensive.

"I left a note in one of the bathrooms," Fedrick said. "She wrote back on the note and said 'I need help.'"

The flight attendant alerted the pilots of the situation and police were waiting in the terminal when they landed, NBC News reports. Click here to continue reading.

Chapter 3

Bill proposed to raise NC minimum wage to $12

On March 8, North Carolina lawmakers and a growing coalition of workers called Raising Wages NC announced new legislation aimed at raising the state's minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $12 by 2020, with an even loftier goal of $15 an hour by 2022.

North Carolina is one of only 21 states that still maintains the federal minimum wage level. Democrat senator Joyce Waddell is among those who sponsored Senate Bill 210, which according to leaders, would give raises to more than 120,000 citizens who earn minimum wage.

The current minimum wage provides an estimated annual salary of $14,000, which is just above the federal poverty level of $11,770 for a single person. Click here to continue reading.

Chapter 4

Man trimming shrubs on trail finds dog buried alive

As soon as Eric Purdue saw the dusty, black nose and two tired, blue eyes looking up at him, he fells to his knees and began digging into the dirt with his bare hands.

“It's OK, baby. We're going to get you out. We'll get you out baby,” he said to her in a video, trying to comfort and reassure the fluffy brown, chow-mix, whom he named Lulu.

Purdue, who was cutting briars along the trail, heard something, but he wasn't sure what it was. He moved 25 yards in the noise's direction and stumbled upon her—nearly stepping on her.

“This person need help. A lot of it. Or some serious jail time, or both,” he said. “I just couldn't believe that someone would take so much time to do such a terrible thing to a dog.”

“They're sick. Sick. And if they're just plain cruel, maybe someone will bury them for a day or two, see how they like it.” Click here to continue reading.

Chapter 5

If you bought stuff from Harbor Freight Tools, you might be due a refund

Harbor Freight, one of the country's largest national discount tool and equipment retailers, settled a huge class-action lawsuit this year that could lead to shoppers receiving up to a 30-percent refund on all of their purchases.

The suit was brought by Cleveland based Dworken & Bernstein over misleading sale prices. Harbor Freight was accused of advertising merchandise at a “sale” or “compare at” price, when those goods were never sold at a higher price.

The settlement applies to goods purchased between April 8, 2011 and December 15, 2016. Click here to continue reading.

Chapter 6

A man predicted the world was going to end in September. He changed his mind.

David Meade, the man who claimed the world would end in September, said doomsday wasn't coming after all. At least not yet.

"The world is not ending, but the world as we know it is ending," he told The Washington Post. "A major part of the world will not be the same beginning in October."

Meade, who is a Christian and self-published author, claimed that on September 23 "Planet Nibiru" would collide with Earth, marking the apocalypse. He backtracked on it, saying a series of dire events cover the course of weeks would transpire. Click here to read more about Meade's failed prediction.

Chapter 7

Charlotte Couple who lost sons welcomes twins

The past year wasn't all bad or crazy news. The next story is one of the most uplifting we had the pleasure to report.

A Charlotte couple who tragically lost their two children in a car accident welcomed twins over the summer. The twins' middle names honor their older brothers who lost their lives in a car accident on their way home to Charlotte from a family wedding at the beach.

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Via Eddings family Facebook

“We believe there is a lot of hope in our story and it reminds us God is a restorer,” says Gentry Eddings.

Hope – because the couple recently announced they are now pregnant, with twins, and due this summer.

Eddings family
Eddings family

Hadley says, “I had missed being a mom from day one but around this summer I thought, we're getting to that point where it ok for me to be pregnant and I want to have more babies. And I don't want to continue to live this life without being a mom again.” Click here to continue reading.

Chapter 8

Dress code, series of events lead to honor roll student's suspension

A senior at Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg worried for her college future after she was suspended over a shirt that she wore just before her graduation.

Summer said the principal approached her int he cafeteria during lunch, asking if she had a jacket to cover up. The shirt, which rested just off the tops of her shoulders, exposed her collarbone.

She says the principal told her she would have to go to the control room to change her clothes.

"I completely understand why a dress code is put into place but I feel like after I put on that jacket it should have been subdued," Summer said.

A spokesperson for the school system refused to comment, citing student privacy, and provided a copy of the school's dress code. The dress code is lengthy and specifically, prohibits students from wearing off-the-shoulder shirts. Click here to continue reading.

Chapter 9

Arrest made in connection with disappearance of NC toddler

In late November, an Amber Alert was issued for 3-year-old Mariah Woods of Onslow County. Kristy Woods made an emotional plea for the return of her daughter, who was last seen at the family's home the night before she was reported missing.

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It wasn't long before the FBI joined local authorities in the search for Mariah. After several days passed, officials said the investigation had shifted to a homicide and Mariah's remains were found near a creek in Pender County.

The live-in boyfriend of Mariah's mother, Earl Kimrey, was arrested and charged in connection with Mariah's death. Court documents alleged that Kimrey "allegedly knowingly concealed the unnatural death of Mariah Woods, and secretly hid the child's body." Click here to continue reading about the search for Mariah Woods.