Tri County Report For January 9th, 2020

Federal investigators are meticulously working to find the cause of this past weekend’s deadly crash on the Pennsylvania Turnpike.  National Transportation Safety Board officials released a video yesterday that shows up-close scenes of the wrecked tour bus and tractor-trailers.  A preliminary cause of the crash that killed five people and injured nearly 60 is expected within ten days.

A man from Baden is accused of stabbing a man last week in Ambridge.  James Wilkins reportedly struck another man in the left side on January 2nd during a fight on the 400-block of Glenwood Drive.  Wilkins was found with over three-and-a-half grams of cocaine in his pocket, according to police.  The victim was taken to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment while the 37-year-old Wilkins is in Beaver County Jail on 200-thousand-dollars bail.

Health officials say Allegheny County has had its first flu-related death of the season.  It’s reported the victim was over 90-years-old and was also battling some underlying medical conditions.  So far this season, Allegheny County is leading the commonwealth with more than 51-hundred confirmed flu cases, with 34 leading to hospitalizations.  At this time last year, there were only 212 confirmed flu cases in the county.

Elections officials say there will be a special election to fill Republican Tedd Nesbit’s state house seat.  The polls will open in the eighth Legislative district, which includes parts of Butler and Mercer counties, on Tuesday March 17th with the winner completing the remainder of Nesbit’s term, ending in December.  Nesbit was elected to a seat on the Mercer County Court of Common Pleas and officially resigned January 2nd.

Pennsylvania may soon pass a bill making it illegal to use a cellphone while driving. The bill has recently been approved by the PA House Transportation Committee. The bills were filed by Rep. Rosemary Brown and Rep. Tony DeLuca. DeLuca sent a letter to the House urging them to pass the bills. However this bill only bans texting and driving and DeLuca thinks it need to expand the language to ban all cellphone use while driving. Bills like this have failed over the years, but DeLuca told WPXI this one is gaining bipartisan support.

A Hempfield Township couple is scheduled to face a judge today, accused of allowing their children and pets to live in filth.  Cloyd and Melissa Zimmerman were arrested last month for felony child and animal neglect.  Westmoreland County sheriff’s deputies say the couple’s four kids were covered in feces and sleeping on filthy mattresses.  Two dogs and two cats were rescued from the deplorable conditions and are awaiting adoption.

A State Representative has introduced legislation that would cut the number of lawmakers in Harrisburg by 25 percent. Allegheny County state Rep. Valerie Gaydos says Pennsylvania has the second largest state legislature in the country, and not not only provide significant cost savings to taxpayers, but also streamline the legislative process and make it easier for lawmakers to reach consensus. Lawmakers regularly introduce bills to shrink the Legislature, but none have met the state constitutional amendment requirement of getting passed in consecutive sessions and then approved in a statewide referendum.

A man from Pittsburgh is entering a guilty plea for his role in a multi-state drug ring.  Kyleif Harley was one of 37 people indicted by a federal grand jury over the summer.  The group was charged with distributing heroin, fentanyl cocaine, and other drugs between January 2018 and June 2019.  Harley will be sentenced on July 6th.

Pennsylvania State Police say a Cambria County woman left her pets alone to die after moving from Washington County.  Troopers charged Dominique Cronin with aggravated cruelty to animals and other charges yesterday.  Cronin is accused of abandoning two cats and a dog in a Daisytown house.  The animals were found dead by state police during a recent welfare check.