Rapists, crashes, fires among top read stories of 2017

It was a busy year for the South Whidbey Record.

Its staff reached nearly 500,000 online readers during the year logging more than 1.4 million page views.

Of the Top 10 most read stories of 2017, many most read stories dealt with some of kind of tragedy or crime.

The most read story, with 34,100 page views, was a June 28 article by Jessie Stensland about a serial rapist who terrorized Oak Harbor in the early 1990s moving to Tacoma.

Paul Harell was released to a community-based housing alternative in the South Puget Sound. The former Navy man broke into womens’ homes and raped them at knife point.

The second most read story was a May 30 article by Kyle Jensen about 69-year-old Diane Sturlaugson, of Lake Stevens, who was killed in a Memorial Day collision. A follow up story about Jeffrey Lewellen, a Clinton resident who caused the crash, pleading guilty was the seventh most read story. He received 138 month sentence.

Other highly read stories were coverage of a Useless Bay Colony home that was lit on fire by mentally ill man as well as when Central Whidbey’s iconic Smith Barn burned to the ground.

News of the South Whidbey School Board voting to close Langley Middle School was fifth on the list with nearly 6,000 online readers.

Toward the end of the list were stories about delays at the Clinton Ferry Terminal and changes in ownership of Whidbey Airpark.

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