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Kern County's top stories in 2019

Posted at 6:07 PM, Dec 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-30 21:07:30-05

Ridgecrest Earthquakes

The shaking was felt across multiple counties and states, but the city of Ridgecrest endured the most terror following two historic earthquakes ripping through the town.

A 6.4 magnitude earthquake on the 4th of July followed by a 7.1 quake the next day, damaged thousands of properties, destroyed the city's only theater and caused billions of dollars worth of damage to the China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.

The epicenter was in the small town of Trona where hundreds were stranded without water and various resources for days.

In the face of one tragedy, another was spurring on the streets of Bakersfield.

Homeless crisis

The number of unsheltered homeless individuals more than doubled in 2019 from the year prior, prompting the county to declare a homeless crisis and a homeless shelter crisis.

City, state and local officials abruptly planned a homeless forum in the latter half of the year, as public pressure rose from businesses and residents fed up with the drugs, property crimes and theft plaguing the community.

Monsignor Craig Harrison

In April, a bombshell took the community by surprise -- Monsignor Craig Harrison of the St. Francis Church was accused of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with minors.

So far, no charges have been filed, but one case still remains open in Firebaugh.

John Wooner found dead

In July, officials found the body of Mcfarland City Manager John Wooner in the Kern River.

The discovery came two months after Wooner went missing from McFarland.

Officials say Wooner died from drowning after his vehicle veered off of highway 178 and crashed into the water.

Bakersfield Police Department discovers buried newborn

In February, the Bakersfield Police Department located a newborn buried in the backyard of a Southwest Bakersfield home.

Officials say an investigation revealed that a 15-year-old girl gave birth to the newborn a few months prior, when her mother allegedly took the baby and drowned it before burying it.

The mother, Beant Dhillon has been charged with first-degree murder and is due back in court next week.

Bakersfield Police Chief retires

In November, Lyle Martin announced he was stepping down from his position as the Bakersfield police chief, after working at the department for more than three decades.

The Kern County District Attorney's office announced that Martin will serve as a chief district attorney's investigator.

Kern County Fair State Audit

In September the Kern County District Attorney's Office confirmed that it launched an investigation into Kern County fair officials following a state audit revealing that hundreds of thousands of dollars were mismanaged by a fair CEO and maintenance supervisor.

The audit showed that those funds were spent on excessive and illegal out-of-state travel expenses, expensive dinners, alcohol purchases and more.

The case is still pending.

Dog abuse viral video

In January, a viral video made rounds on the internet showing a Bakersfield woman dragging a dog while riding a motorized scooter.

Elaine Rosa, the woman who was apparently shown in the video, has pleaded not guilty.

Rosa is due in court January 7th.

Community native dies

David Marcus, the Bakersfield native who successfully beat cancer multiple times throughout his life, passed away.

Marcus was honored with a star in front of the Fox Theater in downtown Bakersfield and was even given a shout out by President Trump.

Kern County high school state titles

Bakersfield Christian High School won their first state football title and Foothill High School won their second state basketball title.