With 2018 behind us, the Lake Sun looks back at the stories that we believe had the biggest impact on the Lake of the Ozarks region.
3. Year of the gun: shootings mar 2018
The Lake of the Ozarks region and those with ties here saw significant gun violence in 2018. A shooting in May killed a Stover man, Thomas Chandler, Sr., though no charges were filed in the case. Human remains discovered in Miller County ended up being those of Tyler Worthington of the State of California, allegedly killed in a drug deal gone bad. On the outskirts of the area, a Crocker resident, Johnathan Graham, was one of two killed in a quadruple shooting in January in Pulaski County and in that case one of the victims who survived, Cassandra Gann, was also from Crocker. In June, a Crocker man, Ian Miller, was charged in Pulaski County with murder in the shooting death of Lane Kennedy. Two Lake area men were charged in the shooting deaths of Tunas couple Joseph and Brandy Allen. Jeffrey Stevenson of Macks Creek was arrested soon after the murders while Billy Sage Medley, a homeless man with past addresses in Camden County and Lebanon, was taken into custody in Oklahoma following a multi-day manhunt. Toward the end of the year, Camden County resident Christine Zahn was charged for murder in the shooting death of Derek Harrelson at her Greenview area home. That was November, then early in December, Barnett teen Dalton Bishop was shot to death in Miller County, and the authorities quickly charged Larry Matthews with murder. A former Lake area resident, Amanda Kessler Stokes, was one of three dead in a murder-suicide in Florida perpetrated by her estranged husband Mark Stokes. There were also multiple non-fatal shootings in 2018 as well. Two shootings in the Eldon area occurred within hours of each between Aug. 5 to 6. Kathryn Neu and Shane Brown were each charged in these separate incidents. In July, a Miller County homeowner was not charged after a shooting at their home was ruled justified; the resident shot a hatchet-wielding intruder in the arm. Just this past weekend, a Morgan County man survived a gunshot to the face allegedly fired by his neighbor, and police are still looking for Revious Hamilton Jr., 50, with multiple charges filed against him.
4. Fatal crashes rise
There were more tragedies in store for the Lake of the Ozarks this year. In Camden County, fatal motor vehicle crashes were on the rise. Fifteen were killed in 12 crashes as of mid-day Dec. 31, 2018, according to Missouri State Highway Patrol data. In 2017, there six killed in six crashes. An improving economy bringing in more people to area roadways may be partly behind the increase, crash deaths had dipped during recession years. The last time there were as many fatalities on roadways in Camden County was in 2008 when 21 were killed in 16 crashes. While Camden County fatal accidents and total killed were up, Morgan and Miller counties remained stable and relatively low with four killed in four crashes and five killed in four crashes respectively. However, one of the Miller County traffic fatalities included Deputy Casey Shoemate, who died while serving his community. Shoemate was tragically killed in the line of duty in a collision while responding to a house fire south of Eldon, a reminder that not even emergency responders on immune from deadly accidents. On the water, the Lake of the Ozarks also saw its fair share of tragedies with multiple drownings, all too typical, but two of which were children. Three college-age students were also killed in one boat crash in May.