The countdown: Top 10 local news stories of 2013

Published 6:50am Wednesday, January 1, 2014

This feature is brought to you by Accentra Credit Union of Austin.

This is a countdown of the top 20 local news stories of 2013, as voted on by Austin Daily Herald readers. Click on the numbers at the bottom of this post for the rest of stories 10 through 1, and find 20-11 here.

(10) Young people lost too soon: Family remembers nursing student Lauren Schwab; 27-year-old Austin grad Mark Cavanaugh leaves lasting impression; and family works on late teen Tess Landherr’s bucket list


Mower County residents saw their share of tragedy in 2013. From accidents to horrible tragedies, several young area natives died this year far before their time.

Twenty-year-old Lauren Schwab suddenly died in April from a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot in the arteries of her lungs. The nursing student at Riverland Community College had complained of cramps and pains in her legs during the week before her death, but her health took a serious turn for the worse one night and she never recovered.


The community outpouring was immense, as more than 60 people gathered under the flagpole at Austin High School to remember her a few days after her death.

The same shared sense of loss followed 27-year-old Mark Cavanaugh’s death in November. Cavanaugh spent the better part of five years battling a mysterious illness which was eventually diagnosed as Aplastic anemia, a condition where bone marrow does not make enough new blood cells.

Mark was a beloved Austin native who led the Austin High School football team to the Section 1AAAA football title game his senior season and was named all-state honorable mention quarterback. He earned a nursing degree from the University of Pennsylvania and was working on his master’s degree when he fell ill.


Yet some area residents found meaning in death. The family of 16-year-old Tess Landherr, who died in a car crash in February, decided to start a memorial 5K run/walk event in her honor, and several of her fellow dancers at Austin’s Just for Kix decided to pursue her dream of dancing at the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Jan. 1.

“I think about her all the time,” dancer Kayla Felten said in December. “She loved to dance with us, and she danced her heart out.”

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