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Year in Review: ABC-7’s top stories of 2018

The past 365 days have brought many impactful and emotional stories to the Borderland.

And ABC-7 was there with extensive coverage of every single one.

Here are ABC-7’s top stories of 2018…

The Border:

Tornillo Migrant Camp

The town of Tornillo became the temporary home for thousands of migrant teens from Central America this past year. The Department of Health and Human Services erected numerous tents that has held up to 2,800 migrant teens. An end to this migrant camp has become more unclear as the year comes to an end.

Migrants Released in El Paso

In December, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement unexpectedly released hundreds of asylum seekers in Downtown El Paso. The number of migrant released grew extensively over the next couple and some City of El Paso officials say those releases came as a surprise to them.

Migrant Children Die in Federal Custody

Two migrant children from Guatemala died while in federal custody just within weeks of each other. On December 8, 7-year-old Jakelin Caal died after she became sick while she was being transported from a port of entry in Southern New Mexico to Lordsburg. On Christmas Eve night, 8-year-old Felipe Gomez-Alonso died in an Alamogordo hospital after being transported from El Paso.

Crime & Courts:

Daniel Villegas Murder Trial

It took three trials for Daniel Villegas to be considered a free man. Villegas was accused of killing Bobby England and Armando Lazo in 1993. His first trial in 1994 ended in a hung jury but he was convicted for the double murders a year later. After serving 18 years in prison, his conviction was overturned by an appeals court on the basis of ineffective counsel. A jury found Villegas not guilty in his third trial.

EPPD Officer Points Gun at Children

It was the viral video that was seen by millions on social media. A video showed El Paso Police Officer Jose Rios pointing his gun at a group of children while he was responding to a trespassing call in Central El Paso. Rios was cleared by El Paso Police of any wrong doing.


El Paso Streetcars Return

It was a scene that El Paso hadn’t seen in decades as streetcars made a return to the streets. Since their return, El Pasoans have climbed on to enjoy the historic ride.

I-10 Fiery Semi Crash

A tranquil July day turned into chaos for some commuters on I-10 near Downtown El Paso after a semi was engulfed in flames following a crash on a utility bridge. The crash forced the semi driver to escape the flames in desperation. The crash resulted in weeks of traffic headaches as crews worked to repair the damaged bridge.

Go 10 Project

Interstate 10 has seen a slew of changes over the past years but those changes increased in 2018. Those changes are part of the Texas Department of Transportation’s Go 10 Project to widen and increase lanes along I-10 in El Paso.


Beto Effect

El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke challenged incumbent Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate during the midterm elections. That drew national-wide attention to El Paso when O’Rourke hosted a watch party at Southwest University Park on election night.

NM Congressional Race

The District 2 congressional race in New Mexico was one to watch prior to election day. But it took on a life of its own after absentee ballots were counted in Doña Ana County. On election night, Republican Yvette Herrill claimed victory and even presented a victory speech but less than 24 hours later, it was Democrat Xochitl Torres Small who became the projected winner after absentee ballots were counted. This prompted the Herrill campaign to impound votes in Doña Ana County.

City Council Incumbents

For the first time, El Paso City Council races took part during midterm elections, causing a significant increase in voter turnout. Two of those races included incumbents who retained their seats after going into a runoff. Peter Svarzbein was reelected in District 1 and Cissy Lizarraga was reelected in District 8.


EPISD Announces School Closures

The El Paso Independent School District has been flirting with the idea of closing some of its elementary schools. And the list of potential closures has been narrowed down to four inlcuding Beall, Burleson, Alta Vista and Schuster.

Dr. Natalicio Announces Retirement

In May, longtime UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio announced she would retire after a successor for her position was found. Dr. Natalicio, who has been UTEP’s president for the past 30 years, likely gave her final commencement ceremony during Fall commencement.


El Paso Locomotive Forms

El Paso got a new soccer team this year and it was El Pasoans who decided the team’s name. After the people voted, it was decided that El Paso’s new United Soccer League would be named El Paso Locomotive FC.

UTEP Basketball Get New Coach

Rodney Terry became the 19th head coach of UTEP Basketball after Tim Floyd unexpectedly resigned the previous season.

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