TRI COUNTY REPORT FOR AUGUST 18TH, 2021

State lawmakers are drafting a bill to counter school mask mandates. The bill would allow parents to opt out of having their child wear a mask to school. State Senator Judy Ward says parents are having great concern about the effects of masking students all day. Lawmakers will return to session next month.

An Ellwood City man has been arrested by New Castle City police in connection with a car-jacking incident on Monday. The victim and 82 year old woman told police that a white male threw her out of her vehicle at the Dollar General on Center Avenue in West Pittsburgh. According to the departments Facebook page, Police later arrested 34 year old Andrew Mercado and charged him with Robbery of a Motor Vehicle, Receiving Stolen Property, Assault and Harassment. No injuries were reported.

New Castle City Firefighters were called to the scene of a duplex fire just before midnight, last night. WKBN-TV reports several crews were called out to assist New Castle. The fire broke out at a duplex on North Liberty Street. No injuries were reported and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The National Weather Service says the remnants of Tropical Storm Fred will fall on the area about midday today.  Forecasters say the region could receive a little more than two inches of rain.  The system is not expected to bring high winds, but it will produce rain across the region before it heads on to New England.

Police in Beaver County have arrested a man they say stole a police cruiser and crashed it.  Police say they answered a call about men with guns at an apartment complex in Aliquippa yesterday.  When they arrived on the scene, three of the men jumped in a vehicle and sped away while a fourth suspect ran.  The vehicle crashed a short time later, and one suspect was taken into custody.  While he was being held in a police cruiser, 20-year-old Shawnquez Redd allegedly climbed into the front seat and drove away.  He crashed after a short chase and was taken to the Beaver County jail.  Nobody was hurt in the incident.

Former Pittsburgh Pirates star Felipe Vazquez has learned his sentence following conviction on charges that he sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl.  A Westmoreland County jury found Vazquez guilty of 15 charges including statutory sexual assault back in May. On Tuesday, he was sentenced to two-to-four years in prison.  The former baseball star has been jailed since September of 2019 so he will be eligible for parole as soon as next month.

Pittsburgh Catholic schools are issuing a new mask mandate just days ahead of the start of fall classes.  The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on Tuesday issued guidelines requiring students, teachers and staffers at diocese schools to wear mask indoors regardless of the individuals’ COVID vaccination status.  A spokesperson for the diocese says that they had hoped to be able to make mask usage optional, but that doesn’t appear to be an option.  Leaders expect to reevaluate the policy in late-September.

COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise throughout the state. Yesterday, the state added over two-thousand new cases to the total, pushing it close to one-million-254-thousand. About 27 new deaths related to the virus were added to the death toll, which is at 27-thousand-993.

An Erie man was taken to the hospital following a one vehicle accident in Slippery Rock Township. According to state police 20 year old Sydney Benes was traveling west on Ralston Road when he traveled off the roadway, struck a boulder causing the vehicle to become airborne. Benes’ vehicle then struck a utility pole. He was transported to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment.