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Next 12 Yellow PA Counties Announced; Amtrak 188 Charges Reinstated; Low Cut Connie Hospital Concert
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 05/15/20 8:19 pm | updated: 05/15/20 8:19 pm
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced on Friday, 5/15, that 12 more counties will move into the 'yellow' reopening phase starting next Friday, May 12. Thirteen counties in western PA joined 24 counties in northern areas of the state in the partial reopening phase today including the cities of Pittsburgh, Altoona, and Johnstown. The new counties announced include Adams, Beaver, Carbon, Columbia, Cumberland, Juniata, Mifflin, Perry, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Wayne, and York. The 'yellow phase' allows for some retail businesses to reopen to in-person services while observing health guidelines, the stay-at-home orders are lifted in favor of aggressive mitigation, and child care can resume. Large gatherings over 25 people are still banned and gyms, spas, movies, theaters, salons, and other entertainment venues are still closed. Bars and restaurants are still restricted to take-out and delivery.

A judge has reinstated all charges against an Amtrak engineer who was at the controls when a train derailed in Port Richmond five years ago this week killing 8 people and injuring 246. Brandon Bostian had been charged with involuntary manslaughter of eight people and reckless endangerment of 246 injured, and one count of risking a catastrophe before the charges were dismissed in July 2019. The state appealed that decision. Ruling on that appeal, Superior Court Judge Victor Stabile reversed the lower court's ruling saying it was based on fact-finding that should happen in a trial. Stabile said the lower court's role was only to determine if the prosecutors presented enough evidence to go to trial. Bostian's lawyer, Brian McMonagle, argued that any mistakes Bostian made do not amount to crimes.

An NTSB investigation found no evidence that Bostian was impaired or using a cellphone. They said he lost his bearings after he was distracted by radio chatter about another train in the area being hit by a rock. The train was sped up before entering a curve. It was determined to have been traveling twice the speed limit for the bend in the tracks. In May 2017, shortly before the statute of limitations ran out in the case, the Philadelphia District Attorney's office declined to bring charges. This prompted Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shapiro to file charges at the last minute. In September of 2017, those charges were dropped by Judge Thomas Gehret citing lack of evidence. That ruling was reversed in February 2018 by Judge Kathryn S. Lewis and the charges were reinstated, before being dropped again last year. Amtrak has taken responsibility for the crash and has agreed to pay $265 million to settle civil claims filed by victims and their families. The company has also installed positive-train control technology that would automatically slow a speeding train between Boston and Washington, D.C.

Philadelphia rock band, Low Cut Connie, performed a socially-distanced concert for hospital staff and patients at Southern Ocean Medical Center in Manahawkin, NJ, on Wednesday, May 13. Frontman Adam Weiner and guitarist Will Donnelly played safely for nurses, doctors, and hospital staff as well as patients in their windows by setting up outside the building at proper distance. They were invited by staff who regularly watch the group's weekly webcast concerts from South Philly called "Tough Cookies" at 6 p.m. every Thursday and Sunday. See their full statement below and hear Low Cut Connie on iradiophilly's Local Stage station.

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