- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2007

MARYLAND

BALTIMORE

Deadly house fire claims eighth victim

A deadly Baltimore row house fire two weeks ago claimed its eighth victim Saturday.

Hours before her father, two young sons and nephew were buried, Deneen Thomas died at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.

Miss Thomas, the family matriarch who used a wheelchair, suffered severe burns over more than half her body.

Thirteen members of Miss Thomas’ extended family lived in the Cecil Avenue house across from Greenmount Cemetery.

The fast-moving fire, reported about 7:20 a.m. May 22, was described by Fire Chief William J. Goodwin Jr. as “probably the worst I’ve seen in my 32 years as a firefighter.”

BALTIMORE

Inmates interviewed after prison yard fight

Investigators have begun interviewing inmates who were in a prison yard when a brawl that injured 18 erupted Friday.

The interviews began Saturday and continued yesterday, said Mark Vernarelli, a spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

Six detectives with the department’s internal investigative unit have been assigned to the case and have interviewed many of the injured inmates, some more than once, Mr. Vernarelli said.

Eighteen inmates were injured in the exercise yard at the Metropolitan Transition Center, a minimum-security facility. More than 100 men were in the exercise yard at the time of the fight.

No correctional officers were injured in the melee, officials said.

Mr. Vernarelli said he could not comment on whether the fight was gang-related, noting that the investigation was ongoing.

Three inmates were critically injured in the brawl but were expected to survive.

On Saturday, two inmates attacked each other with makeshift knives at a state prison in Jessup.

Both were stabbed in the upper torso and were taken by ambulance to the University of Maryland Medical Center, where they were treated, said Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Division of Correction.

VIRGINIA

NORFOLK

31 tall ships sail into port for festival

Sail Virginia 2007 will bring 31 traditionally rigged tall ships and character vessels, such as replicas of historic ships, from around the world to Norfolk’s downtown riverfront starting Thursday.

The six-day event is a way for Norfolk to take part in the ongoing commemoration of Jamestown’s 400th anniversary. Near the docked ships, visitors can explore a Colonial village and a historic neighborhood where people in period garb will pay tribute to the 1907 Jamestown Exposition, a kind of world’s fair that took place in Norfolk to celebrate Jamestown’s 300th anniversary.

The settlers who founded America’s first permanent English settlement in May 1607 sailed their three ships past the site of Norfolk before landing at a swampy island about 50 miles away.

Officials expect more than 300,000 people — mostly from Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland — to attend Sail Virginia. Admission is free and includes tours of the ships.

Sail Virginia is being combined with Norfolk’s 31st annual Harborfest, a festival along the Elizabeth River featuring live entertainment, food vendors and fireworks.

Among the vessels will be 21 tall ships from the United States, along with everything from schooners to sloops, skiffs and skipjacks, small wooden replicas of Viking ships and some military ships.

On Friday, the ships will parade up the Bay, past Norfolk Naval Station and then up the Elizabeth River.

The ships will be docked during Harborfest from Friday through Sunday and will stick around the next day for more public tours. On the sixth day, there will be a blessing of the fleet and a parade of sail out of town.

WEST VIRGINIA

HINTON

Three VCU students killed in crash

Three Virginia Commonwealth University students were killed last week in a three-vehicle accident when the driver of a tractor-trailer crossed the median of Interstate 64 in rainy conditions.

Cayce Castelow, 19, of Norfolk, was driving a Volkswagen on Interstate 64 near Hinton with passengers Benjamin Hutson, 18, of Norfolk, and Joseph Armoury, 18, of Springfield. The three, who had just finished their freshman year, were returning to Virginia from a concert in Lexington, Ky., police said.

“[Their] vehicle went under the tractor-trailer, killing all three people inside,” state police Cpl. G.J. Reed said.

The accident occurred at about 6:52 p.m. Thursday.

The driver of the tractor-trailer, Ruben Fuentes, 49, of Powhatan, Va., was traveling west toward Beckley when he lost control on the slick road, Cpl. Reed said.

The tractor-trailer then skidded into a Subaru Forester station wagon driven by Andrei Kharisov, 45, of Hinton.

Mr. Kharisov and his 10-year-old son were treated and released from a hospital, as was Mr. Fuentes.

No charges have been filed against Mr. Fuentes, Cpl. Reed said.

“It looks like from eyewitnesses that the truck was not traveling recklessly or even at a high rate of speed,” Cpl. Reed said. “It looks like he was traveling on wet pavement and just went into a slide.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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