WMBF celebrates 10 years: A look back at major stories

Top WMBF headlines over the first 10 years

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - We know it as 8-8-08.

You may remember Aug. 8, 2008 was our first day on the air here at WMBF News. In the past 10 years, we've covered thousands of stories in your backyard. We've followed some of those stories to Los Angeles, even Haiti.

While much has changed over the past decade, our live, local late-breaking commitment to you has not.
As the first area station to broadcast in high definition, our coverage was crisp. While the top story on our debut was the layoffs at the newly-opened Hard Rock Amusement Park, one of the biggest stories was the 2009 Horry County wildfire. The South Carolina Forestry Commission calls it the state's worst wildland urban interface fire in history. It burned 19,130 acres, destroyed 76 homes and damage 97 others. No one died in the fire and no injuries were reported.

In 2013, a fire destroyed 108 units in the 26 buildings of the Windsor Green complex. Another fire there destroyed 16 more homes this year.

Also in 2013, a fire leveled the center of Georgetown's historic waterfront district.

"They kind of walked around with this look in their eye, what just happened? You know they were still trying to wrap their head around it," said Stephanie Robusto, a former WMBF News reporter.

Our coverage of a deadly plane crash in Conway again brought our crews front and center to those who lost loved ones.

Another plane crash killed a pilot and a woman on the ground when the plane flew into her RV at the Briarcliff RV resort in 2011. The woman's husband was taken to the hospital with burns.

All deaths are very difficult to cover. Baby Boy Horry was especially difficult. The search for clues brought the community together, yet still nearly a decade later, there are no answers.

The search for Baby Grace also sparked the community's attention and wore on our reporters.

"It's surreal when the person you've been covering for two days is sitting right in front of you," said Amy Lipman, former WMBF News reporter.

The mother would later plead guilty to going into a Socastee creek with her 5-month-old daughter, which led to the baby's death.

Our investigations covered everything from cold cases to allegations of wrongdoing within the Horry County Police Department and former detective Allen Large.

Two of the biggest unsolved cases of missing teens have drawn national attention. In 2009, our extensive coverage of the search for missing teen Brittanee Drexel began in full force. The 17-year-old girl with brown hair and blue eyes was from Rochester, N.Y. She came to the area without her parents' permission in April 2009 and hasn't been seen since.

You've probably seen the last images of Drexel on surveillance footage from inside and outside the Blue Water Hotel the night of April 25, 2009. She was smiling and texting the night she went missing.

Our coverage of the search for 20-year-old Heather Elvis started in December 2013 at Peachtree Landing, where police say the last signs of Elvis were found.

"I don't want them to find that Heather has been murdered, but I don't want them to find that she's still alive in some hell hole somewhere, which one would be worse," mother Debbi Elvis said during a previous interview with WMBF News.

A kidnapping trial for Tammy and Sidney Moorer, the two charged in connection with Elvis' kidnapping, is scheduled for October. Our efforts to get answers from the Moorers' relatives were met with resistance as the family told police WMBF anchor Michael Maely tried to force his way into their home for an interview.

Fighting for journalistic rights, Maely took the stand for the first time in his 22-year career. A jury found him not guilty of trespassing. 

Three people were killed and another injured in a shooting at the Bermuda Sands Motel on Ocean Boulevard during the 2014 Memorial Day weekend. City leaders responded in the following years with a 23-mile traffic loop. 

In the past decade we've covered plenty of elections and politics. Presidential candidate and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich in our studio, former Gov. Mark Sanford's resignation and the removal of our state's Confederate flag got plenty of coverage.

We also sent a crew to Haiti for earthquake coverage, as well as covered plenty of growth in downtown Florence and the Myrtle Beach boardwalk's development.

It wasn't all heavy. We've covered plenty of fun stories too, through This is Carolina and SC Weekend. And, we've embraced our veterans. Plus, there was the Southern 500 and a trip to L.A. for the Garden City Priest playing poker to win his church money.

Through it all, we take our work seriously, just not ourselves. We still try to have a little fun when the stories allow it, like the dancing on set with the morning crew and with some of our featured guests.

And of course a big thank you to all of you for watching on air and online, and posting on social media in the past decade.

As always, if you've got a story you want us to dig into, let us know.

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