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State & Region Briefs

Published: 9/16/2019 10:49:21 PM
Boston train derailment in June blamed on broken axle

BOSTON — Boston public transit authorities say a broken axle was to blame for a subway train derailment this summer that caused commuter disruptions and criticism of the system.

Jeff Gonneville, deputy general manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, said Monday that the investigation concluded that metal pieces that surround the axle did not function properly and allowed electrical sparks to arc to the axle for about six months, making it weak and brittle until it broke.

No one was injured when the third car of the Red Line train went off the tracks June 11 as it pulled into the JFK/UMass station. The derailment caused major damage to the automatic signals and switches along a stretch of track.

Gonneville says T workers are checking all subway cars for similar problems.

Rhode Island man held on $100K bail in fatal hit and run

TAUNTON — The Rhode Island driver charged with leaving the scene after striking and killing a woman walking with her 11-year-old son in Massachusetts has been held on $100,000 bail.

Jeremy Schmidt was held after pleading not guilty Monday in Taunton District Court to charges including operating under the influence and negligent motor vehicle homicide.

Authorities say the 27-year-old East Providence man drove away after striking and killing 37-year-old Antonieta Vargas in Seekonk on Thursday night. The boy was not hurt. Schmidt was tracked down early Friday morning. He appeared in court in Rhode Island on a fugitive from justice charge and waived rendition to Massachusetts.

Schmidt’s attorney, John Grasso, did not challenge the bail amount Monday and said he is concerned about his client’s mental health and well-being.

Report: Use of solitary in state prisons still high

BOSTON — The number of state prison inmates placed in solitary confinement remains “staggeringly high,” according a prisoners’ rights advocate, despite an overall drop in the number of people behind bars.

The Boston Globe reports that at least 2,100 prisoners were placed in isolation one or more times last year, according to biannual reports from the Massachusetts Department of Correction.

Inmates in isolation, which the department calls “restrictive housing,” are allowed outside their cell one hour a day, five days a week.

James Pingeon, a staff attorney with Prisoners’ Legal Services, called the number “staggeringly high” and said many people are placed in solitary for minor infractions.

Prisons officials said last year’s figures do not reflect the changes they’ve made to isolation policies since criminal justice overhaul was signed into law in April 2018.

State’s Catholic leaders call for climate change action

BOSTON — The leaders of the four Roman Catholic dioceses in Massachusetts are calling on the faithful to address climate change.

In a pastoral letter released Monday, the bishops wrote that “we must act now within our faith institutions and throughout the state to take substantial, meaningful steps to protect our environmental and provide relief from the impact of toxic pollution and climate change” to protect public health and safety.

The letter was signed Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley; Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski; Worcester Bishop Robert McManus; and Fall River Bishop Edgar da Cunha.

The leaders in their letter cited several recent scientific studies that “detail the urgency of this crisis,” including climate change’s effects on weather and global food supplies.

The bishops asked everyone to “take better care of our common home.”

1 killed, several others hurt in head-on crash

WEST SPRINGFIELD — Police say one person was killed and five others were injured in a two-vehicle head-on crash in Massachusetts.

The crash involving a Honda SUV and a Subaru occurred at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday on Route 20 in West Springfield near the Westfield line. The fire department believes those transported were all adults.

The West Springfield Fire Department tells that six people were taken to the hospital, and one of them was pronounced dead.

The victim was a 25-year-old man, but his name was not made public pending notification of family.

No word on the extent of the other injuries.

The crash remains under investigation.

From Associated Press

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