Looking back on the past 12 months, it's no surprise that the coronavirus pandemic once again dominated the news cycle, just as it did in 2020 (anybody remember the woman who shamed the Starbuck's barista who refused to serve her for not wearing a mask, only for supporters to donate more than $100,000 to him)?
Still, the news being the news, there were plenty of surprises this year, including a sea monster sighting, a deadly plane crash in a suburban Santee neighborhood and a San Diego connection to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Take a look back at the Top 11 stories that made headlines in San Diego in 2021:
No. 11: CHP, FBI Urging I-5 Cash Grabbers to Return Money
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Motorists on Interstate 5 may have thought it was their lucky day last month when thousands of dollars from an armored car went flying all over the freeway. The CHP and other officials, however, soon informed the public that any money recovered in the great cash dash of 2021 had to be returned.
No. 10: Mom Was Jumping on Bench With Toddler Before Deadly Fall at Petco Park, Per Witness
San Diegans in September were horrified to learn about the tragic deaths of a mother and her toddler, who were killed in September when they fell three stories from a concession area at Petco Park.
No. 9: Unexplained Shaking, Boom Reported Across San Diego County
An "unknown event," as the U.S. Geological Survey referred to it, had many San Diegans posting on social media in February, saying they had heard a "boom" and felt sudden shaking.
No. 8: Small Plane Makes Emergency Landing on I-5 Near Del Mar
The single-engine Piper PA-32 aircraft made an emergency landing on southbound Interstate 5 near Del Mar in August, causing traffic problems for motorists confused and stunned by the unexpected sight.
No. 7: Unexpected String of Allergic Reactions Cause Delay at Vaccine Super Station Near Petco Park
Some patients experiencing allergic reactions to the Moderna vaccine caused delays in January at San Diego County's "Vaccination Super Station" near downtown's Petco Park.
No. 6: TikTok Star Pleads Not Guilty to Killing Wife, Her Friend in Downtown San Diego High Rise
A woman killed one October afternoon in a downtown high-rise double-slaying was married to her suspected shooter — a comedian with more than a million combined followers on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube — who entered a not-guilty plea in the case.
No. 5: 13 Dead, 13 Hospitalized After SUV Crashes With Semi-Truck in Imperial County
Thirteen people were killed and 13 others were injured in March when an SUV collided with a semi-truck hauling gravel near the U.S.-Mexico Border in California's Imperial County. Special agents from the Department of Homeland Security responded to the scene of the crash and initiated a human smuggling investigation.
No. 4: Couple Kicked off San Diego-Bound JetBlue Over Face-Mask Dispute
An irate man and his wife who did not adhere to wearing face masks properly were kicked off a flight from Fort Lauderdale to San Diego in September after yelling at flight attendants before takeoff, according to a JetBlue official. According to the airline, the couple was asked “multiple times but would not comply with the federal mask mandate.”
No. 3: Ultra-Rare Deep-Sea Monster Washes Up on San Diego Beach
A man walking on Black's Beach on November afternoon stumbled upon a Pacific footballfish, the type of deep-sea anglerfish made famous in 'Finding Nemo' that has a little bioluminescent light on top of its head that acts as a lure.
No. 2: Woman Fatally Shot While Storming US Capitol Was From San Diego
A rioter who was fatally shot on Jan. 6 by U.S. Capitol Police when she and a violent mob loyal to President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol was identified as Ashli Babbitt, a 35-year-old Ocean Beach resident.
No. 1: Air Traffic Control Warned Pilot He Was Flying Too Low Moments Before Crash in Santee
Before a pilot crashed in a residential street in Santee in October, killing himself and a UPS driver on the ground, Air Traffic Control warned him that he was flying too low and repeatedly asked him to gain altitude.