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12 of the most read Burbank Leader stories of 2018

12 of the most read Burbank Leader stories of 2018
Some of the most read stories in the Leader this year were about crime, the opening and closing of local institutions, the death of a Burbank High student and, most recently, a plane skidding off a Hollywood Burbank Airport runway. (File photos, courtesy of Meredith Swierczynski)

When it comes to news our readers were interested in this year, crime stories came out on top. But that’s not the only genre Media City residents and readers were interested in — below is the top Leader story of each month in terms of pageviews, and they include news about a restaurant reopening, a long-time institution closing and a film crew shutting down a major thoroughfare for a weekend.


January

Just after the new year, a Burbank Unified teacher was arrested on suspicion of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor after a former student came forward with allegations of an inappropriate sexual encounter, authorities said.

Sean Sigler, 53, was accused by a 17-year-old girl of engaging in inappropriate sexual contact with her.

According to the Burbank Police Department, Sigler met the girl when she was a fifth-grade student at Gardner Street Elementary School when he was a teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District.

In June, the Leader reported Sigler was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly producing pornographic images of the student when she was 15.

February

Tesla
In February, the Burbank Planning Board voted to allow Tesla to construct a new dealership and vehicle delivery center at 633 S. San Fernando Blvd, less than a block from its showroom. Burbank Leader

Electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors Inc. will soon have a new facility in Burbank where customers can order and pick up new vehicles, and it will be located less than a block away from its current showroom.

The Burbank Planning Board voted unanimously to allow Tesla to construct the new dealership and vehicle-delivery center at 633 S. San Fernando Blvd., which is next to the IKEA Burbank store.

The new facility, which will replace a flooring retail store and a film school, will include a 5,050-square-foot sales floor and a 9,250-square-foot indoor vehicle pick-up area. The site will also have 21 vehicle spaces for customer and employee parking.

March

Local residents
Local residents hold up signs as they participate in the Burbank March For Our Lives rally and walk on the Chandler Bikeway. Raul Roa / Burbank Leader

Survivors of the Feb. 14 shooting in Parkland, Fla. were set to march on the nation's capital to call on legislators to enact gun reform legislation as similar protests are held in solidarity around the country.

While the survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School planned to march in Washington, residents in Burbank would take to the Chandler Bike Path for their own March for Our Lives event.

April

Bicyclist collision
Burbank Police forensic specialist Carly Lott gathers evidence from the car door that was struck by the bicyclist. Photo by Ross A. Benson

A 52-year-old man was killed in a traffic collision after he was thrown from his bicycle and into the path of an oncoming vehicle, according to Burbank police.

Lenny Trinh of Burbank was riding his bicycle about 5 p.m. in a designated bike lane on Alameda Avenue between Mariposa Street and Griffith Park Drive when he struck an open car door and was ejected into traffic. Sgt. Derek Green, a Burbank Police Department spokesman, said the car's driver had parked along the curb and opened the door just as Trinh was passing.

Trinh was subsequently hit by a pickup traveling east on Alameda Avenue. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he died from his injuries.

May

The Castaway Restaurant has completed most of the renovations to the main part of the restaurant, on
The Castaway restaurant had completed most of the renovations to the main part of the restaurant by early May. Raul Roa / Burbank Leader

The restaurant group behind the Castaway restaurant in Burbank was looking to improve the dining experience it offered customers, leading to a renovation in May and then, in November, opening a secluded lounge that focuses on premium cocktails and appetizers.

In the months before the grand opening, Specialty Restaurants Corp. had been renovating the 55-year-old landmark, giving it a fresh look and changing the dynamics of how the business operates.

After investing about $10 million in the facility, the company was scheduled to hold a grand reopening of the Castaway on May 3, said Ryan Smith, regional director of the restaurant group.

June

Johnny Jay Bogan
Johnny Jay Bogan poses outside BCR "a place to grow," where he works as a counselor, a week after he stopped a knife attack at a local Burger King. Raul Roa / Burbank Leader

One man died and another was expected to survive in what authorities say was a random and unprovoked knife attack inside a Burbank fast food restaurant.

The incident happened at the Burger King on 545. N. Victory Blvd. when a man armed with a knife entered the restaurant and began stabbing a customer seated inside.

Sgt. Derek Green, a spokesman with the Burbank Police Department, said it was unknown what prompted the attack as the customer, described as “elderly,” was with a pair of acquaintances at the time.

As the attack was happening, another customer in the restaurant attempted to stop it and got into a struggle with the armed man. Green said the attacker sustained several knife wounds during the struggle that were considered life-threatening.

July

Across 400-plus theatres, including AMC Burbank 16, a grizzled, unflinching look at the world of professional wrestling hit the big screen with the documentary “350 Days” in mid-July.

Featuring a cavalcade of former sports entertainment superstars such as Bret “Hitman” Hart, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Stan “The Lariat” Hansen, Wendi Richter and more, the Fathom Events picture, directed by Fulvio Cecere and produced by Cecere, Evan Ginzburg and Darren Antola, was said to offer a beyond-the-ring look at the lives of the performers outside the spotlight.

August

A Burbank man under federal investigation since 2017 for his alleged involvement with a prescription drug ring was arrested on suspicion of immigration fraud in early August.

The U.S. Attorney’s office is accusing 44-year-old Armen Simonyan of unlawfully gaining U.S. citizenship and lying on his passport application. Ben Barron, a federal prosecutor, said Simonyan was already under investigation for his alleged ties to a series of sham medical clinics that were issuing fraudulent drug prescriptions, prompting investigators to look into his immigration history.

September

The popular eatery and market
The popular eatery and market was to close after 59 years of continuous service to the community. Raul Roa / Burbank Leader

Early in the month, we reported Media City staple Full O’ Life, an institution that had been in the city for 59 years, was due to close.

One of the first organic-focused businesses in the city, like many other small specialty shops, had not been able to survive the competition from larger stores, according to its manager.

The last couple of years had not been kind to the family-owned business, which had to compete with big-box grocery stores.

The quaint grocery store and restaurant, which has been at the same location at 2515 W. Magnolia Blvd. since 1959, had managed to survive in this tough market and economic climate.

October

A half-mile stretch of Burbank Boulevard was shut down the first weekend in October due to filming.

According to a letter sent to residents and businesses to be impacted by the closure, crews would be filming Quentin Tarantino’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.”

November

Burbank High School sophomore
Burbank High School sophomore Evie Swierczynski lost her battle with acute myeloid leukemia on Tuesday evening less than six months after her diagnosis. Courtesy of Meredith Swierczynski

In the last few days of October, Burbank High School sophomore Evie Swierczynski lost her battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

The former John Muir Middle School student was 15 years old.

Evie’s father, Duane, tweeted the next morning that the family’s “hearts are broken beyond words. Thank you for all of your love and support this year.”

“People are blessed to have known her,” Burbank High principal Michael Bertram said. “As a parent, I would never want to think about losing a child, but there is no doubt she left her mark on the high school community. She will definitely be missed.”

December

Southwest Flight 278
Southwest Flight 278 from Oakland skidded off the runway as it landed at Hollywood Burbank Airport Thursday morning, All 112 passengers and 5 crew were uninjured. Photo by Ross A. Benson

Passengers on a Southwest Airlines flight from Oakland got a jolt earlier this month after their plane skidded off a runway as it landed at Hollywood Burbank Airport.

Flight 278 from Oakland slid on runway 26, which runs perpendicular to Hollywood Way, according to airport spokeswoman Lucy Burghdorf.

The aircraft continued to slide until it was stopped by an engineered materials arrestor system, or EMAS, near the end of the runway, located about 30 to 40 yards away from the street.

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