In March of 2013, a tragic scene unfolded at Falls Park as two people drowned while trying to save a young boy.
16-year-old Madison Wallace of Vermillion went into the river to try and rescue her six-year-old brother, Garrett, who had disappeared in the thick foam.
Another man, 28-year-old Lyle Eagle Tail of Sioux Falls, saw the crisis unfold and went into the water as well. Both Madison and Eagle Tail drowned, but Garrett survived.
In April, mother nature made big news as an ice storm brought down thousands of trees and branches in the Sioux Falls area. The heavy-coated limbs knocked out power to some families for days and damaged vehicles. It took months for city crews and volunteers to clean up all the debris in an effort that became known as “Operation Timber Strike.”
In September, investigators got a big break in one of the state’s best known cold cases.
Pam Jackson and Sherri Miller disappeared in 1971.
The Vermillion teens were on their way to party and were last seen driving a 1960 Studebaker.
Investigators searched for the girls and the car for years, and at one point they even charged a man in connection with the disappearance.
The charges were later dropped.
Then the missing vehicle turned up in a creek — less than a mile — from where the girls were headed.
The case was closed the next year in 2012. Authorities announced Jackson and Miller were the victims of a car crash… not a crime.
In October, old man winter made an early arrival to western South Dakota as a devastating blizzard buried residents in the Black Hills and killed thousands of livestock.
National media dubbed it the Cattleman’s Blizzard. It’s believed an estimated 14,000 cattle, 1,300 sheep, 300 horses, and 40 bison died. Ranchers in the state reported losses of 20 to 50 percent of their herds.
Also in October, Sioux Falls made national headlines when a two-year-old boy died of injuries he suffered after allegedly being abused by his mother’s boyfriend. We later learned the boy was the son of Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson made a trip to Sioux Falls to be at Tyrese Ruffin’s bedside before he died. 27-year-old Joseph Patterson was charged with 2nd-degree murder in the case.
Patterson argued that the child died while choking on a fruit snack, but he was convicted of murder by a jury in 2015.
Patterson was sentenced to life in prison. The South Dakota Supreme Court upheld his conviction in 2017.
In 2015, Ruffin’s mother sat down with KELOLAND’s Don Jorgensen.
Former state secretary of tourism and state development Richard Benda committed suicide. We later learned he was being investigated for double-dipping on state trips and diverting a half-million dollars to a program that was tied to the Northern Beef Plant in Aberdeen.
The plant filed for bankruptcy and was later sold at auction to a company from California.