May 24, 2013 9:21 PM by Olivia DeGenarro and Katherine Worsham, KSBY News

Counting down 60 top stories of 60 years: #45-41

As we continue our countdown of the top 60 local stories of the past 60 years, we look at the creation of a Central Coast landmark, a Christmas Day tragedy, and the clean-up of a toxic waste dump.

At number 45, more than 10,000 companies and government agencies dumped about 5.6 billion pounds of hazardous waste at the Casmalia Resources Facility, located southwest of Santa Maria between 1973 and 1989.

The Environmental Protection Agency declared Casmalia a Superfund site decades later in 1992, and they have been working to clean it up ever since.

Number 44 on our countdown is the double homicide case against Andrew Downs of Atascadero.

The murders happened on Christmas Day of 2010.

Downs, 20, shot and killed sisters Kathy Yeager and Beverly Reilly while they were housesitting in Santa Margarita.

He also tried to attack their relative before he was subdued and arrested.

Downs pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity and was found to be legally insane at the time of the shootings.

On February 21st, 2012, he was committed to a mental health facility.

November 25th, 1995 marks a deadly car crash on the strip of Highway 46 dubbed "Blood Alley."

That comes in at number 43.

Jeff Fairbanks, editor of the San Luis Obispo Tribune, was driving home from his daughter's track meet when he crashed head-on into a 30-foot motor home.

A truck rear-ended his car and all three vehicles burst into flames.

Fairbanks, his wife, and their 12-year old daughter died in the crash, along with the drivers of the other vehicles.

A historic landmark on the Central Coast takes the number 42 spot on our countdown.

The Hearst Corporation donated Hearst Castle to the State of California on June 2nd, 1958, making it a state park.

Tours were opened to the public at 1:00 that day.

Tickets were only two dollars for adults and one dollar for children, and there was only one tour route, compared to the three daytime tours at the castle today.

At number 41, the 649th Military Police Company, based out of Camp San Luis Obispo, has seen its share of deployments since the Persian Gulf War.

It was called into service in January of 1990 and returned home in May of 1991.

Later, in 2003, it was deployed to Iraq.

The unit spent more than a year training Iraqi police and was honored for bravery under fire with the Valorous Unit Award.



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