Top 12 Long Island stories of 2012
Long Island stories that made big headlines this year.
12. Teen elected to Syosset Board of Education
Joshua Lafazan, 18, was elected to the Syosset Board of Education on May 15, while he was still a senior attending Syosset High School. During Lafazan's campaign, he was highly critical of Superintendent Carole Hankin, whose salary and benefits package of more than $500,000 makes her the most highly compensated school chief on Long Island. Lafazan said of his election, "My priority is to make sure every Syosset resident has access to the line-by-line budget and can share their ideas with the school board."
PHOTOS: Lafazan elected to school board | 18-year olds on LI school boards
VIDEOS: Teen wins school board seat | Lafazan on Syosset school board
11. Samantha Garvey
Samantha Garvey was one of Long Island's 61 Intel semifinalists in 2012, gaining recognition for the 2-1/2 years she spent on a marine-life study examining predators' effects on ribbed mussels. Her story stood out from the pack, however, when it was revealed that she and her family were living in a Bay Shore homeless shelter. Garvey said that her family's situation motivated her, explaining, "I want better, so that's why I do well in school." Garvey 's story quickly gained both local and national attention: County Executive Steve Bellone eventually handed Garvey's family a set of keys to a county-owned home and Samantha was invited to Washington D.C. to meet with President Barack Obama and attended his State of the Union address.
PHOTOS: Intel semifinalist Samantha Garvey | 2012 LI Intel finalists & semifinalists
VIDEOS: Garvey moves into new home
10. Doctor indicted in overdose deaths
William Conway, a Baldwin doctor, plead not guilty in federal court in Central Islip to charges that he caused the death of two patients by overprescribing the painkiller oxycodone. The doctor wrote a total of 5,554 oxycodone prescriptions between January 2009 and November 2011 -- some of them for people he had never treated or even met, prosecutors said. The charges came in the wake of a massive June 6 crackdown on pill-pushing mills that netted 98 suspects, including Conway, as well as the June 2011 Medford pharmacy shooting, in which prescription pill-addicted David Laffer fatally shot four people.
PHOTOS: Prescription drug abuse crackdown | VIDEOS: Doctor blamed for oxy user's death
MORE: Narcotic prescriptions on LI by community | William Conway indictment
9. Plane crashes
A single-engine plane crashed into a residential neighborhood in Shirley in August, killing the pilot and a passenger. In a separate October crash, another single-engine plane sputtered and plunged to the bottom of Moriches Inlet, killing two men.
PHOTOS: Plane crash in Shirley | Plane crash in Moriches
8. House explosion
Police said an explosion at a Brentwood home that killed a toddler and injured 17 others was sparked by gas from propane tanks.
PHOTOS: Home explodes in Brentwood
8. Fourth of July boating accident
Three children were trapped and died in a boat's cabin when the vessel capsized in Oyster Bay. The Silverton Convertible was returning from a July Fourth fireworks display. In October, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone signed a new boating safety law requiring all motorboat operators registered in Suffolk to complete a safety course.
Pictured above is Victoria Gaines, one of the youngsters killed in the accident.
PHOTOS: July 4th Oyster Bay boat accident
7. Islanders to leave aging Coliseum
Islanders owner Charles Wang announced that the team will move from the Nassau Coliseum to the new Barclays Center in Brooklyn when the teams' lease with the county expires on July 31, 2015. County Executive Edward Mangano is seeking advice from developer Bruce Ratner, who built the Barclays Center, on the future of the aging Coliseum. Mangano tasked Donald Monti, who heads Renaissance Downtowns in Plainview, to help oversee the development of the rest of the 77-acre site.
FULL COVERAGE: Islanders move to Brooklyn | PHOTOS: Top 10 Isles of all time
5. Long Island police changes, problems
During a year that saw Nassau County police precinct consolidations and ongoing budget woes, former police commanders Alan Sharpe, William Flanagan and John Hunter pleaded not guilty to charges they conspired to prevent the arrest of a teenager whose father, prosecutors said, "was a financial benefactor of the police."
In Suffolk County, the legislature approved without debate a new contract with Suffolk police officers that will save $43 million up front, but will cost a total of $268.7 million over eight years. Suffolk police took over patrols of the Long Island Expressway and Sunrise Highway in the county from the county sheriff's department.
PHOTOS: Former commanders indicted | VIDEO: Top cops plead not guilty
4.Fallen in the line of duty
It was a difficult year for law enforcement officers and firefighters from Long Island, with three killed and two wounded in the line of duty. Nassau police officers Arthur Lopez (left) and Joseph Olivieri (center) were killed in the line of duty, as was FDNY firefighter Richard Nappi (right) of Farmingville. Two NYPD officers from Long Island were wounded in the line of duty in 2012, with Kevin Brennan shot in the head after a chase and Kevin Herlihy wounded in a shootout in a subway station.
PHOTOS: Fallen Nassau officers
3. Presidential debate at Hofstra University
The red-carpeted stage was set at Hofstra University's Mack Sports Complex for the second debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. During the town hall-style debate, local voters asked about taxes, jobs, energy, small business, immigration, gun control and the Benghazi attack. Romney delivered his memorable "binders full of women" comment on the Hofstra stage.
PHOTOS: 2012 Hofstra debate
2.Wildfire scorches Long Island
Massive brush fires erupted in Suffolk County as high winds and dry conditions facilitated the spread of the flames. Firefighters from across Long Island worked to extinguish the blazes, which eventually combined to form a wildfire that burned more than 1,000 acres, destroyed at least three homes and forced evacuations from April 9 to 11. A preliminary state report pointed to arson as the initial cause.
PHOTOS: Suffolk wildfire
1. Superstorm Sandy
Superstorm Sandy slammed Long Island, causing 13 deaths, 945,000 without power, an estimated 2,000 home inhabitable and billions of dollars in damage.
MORE: Complete coverage | PHOTOS: Aerial views of Sandy damage