- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Prince George's County Council member Isaac Gourdine was killed and school board member Marilynn Bland injured in a car accident on the Capital Beltway in Oxon Hill yesterday.
The vehicle a county-owned Chevrolet Impala in which Mr. Gourdine and Mrs. Bland were traveling collided with a tractor-trailer parked on the shoulder of the Inner Loop near St. Barnabas Road shortly before 11 a.m. after it was struck from behind by a Ford Escort, county officials said.
Witnesses told county police that the driver of the Escort, a 43-year-old woman, had been driving erratically for several miles. Police said that although an investigation is continuing it appears she was suffering from a medical condition.
County fire and rescue spokes-man Mark Brady said rescue workers attempted to revive Mr. Gourdine, who was taken by helicopter to Prince George's County Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead.
Mrs. Bland and the female driver of the Escort also were transported to Prince George's County Hospital Center. Mrs. Bland was treated and released, and the driver of the Escort was said to be in good condition yesterday.
Mr. Gourdine, 56, was a Democrat who represented citizens of Fort Washington, Temple Hills, Oxon Hill, Forest Heights, Clinton and Camp Springs. He was elected to the council in 1994 and served as chairman of the Health, Education and Human Services Committee.
He and Mrs. Bland, a legislative aide since 1998 and the vice chairman of the county school board, addressed a Black History Month celebration at Surrattsville High School in Clinton and were on their way to a meeting in Upper Marlboro with other county council members and Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend yesterday morning. Several council members were planning to endorse Mrs. Townsend's Democratic gubernatorial bid.
But news of the crash overshadowed Mrs. Townsend's tour of the county, with moments of silence and prayers offered at events with local and state officials.
The mood was somber at the second-floor county council office suite at the County Administration Building in Upper Malboro. Staffers who had worked with Mr. Gourdine and Mrs. Bland appeared stunned as they went about their duties.
Council President Peter Shapiro said yesterday he was "shocked" by Mr. Gourdine's death. He described Mr. Gourdine as a "great guy with a good heart."
"We didn't always agree, but you couldn't doubt his integrity," Mr. Shapiro said.
"It's been a difficult time," said council spokeswoman Karen Campbell, who said she had learned of Mr. Gourdine's death only 30 minutes before.
Mr. Gourdine is the second county council member to die in a car crash in recent months. Council member Walter H. "Mike" Maloney, 71, was killed in October after suffering a heart attack while behind the wheel and colliding with a tree.
Gov. Parris N. Glendening yesterday praised Mr. Gourdine for the "passion he brought to public service" and hailed him as an inspiration to the next generation of county leaders.
Prince George's County Executive Wayne K. Curry described Mr. Gourdine as "a dedicated public servant."
"I respected the fact that Ike championed issues that he believed in and was always willing to stimulate the political debate, even if that meant challenging the status quo," Mr. Curry said in a statement.
Mr. Gourdine had recently defended the embattled county school board against state plans to curtail its authority after an ongoing power struggle with Superintendent Iris T. Metts.
In 2000, he introduced a measure, which ultimately was defeated, to repeal term limits on the county executive and county council members.
Mr. Gourdine was serving his second and because of term limitations, final term on the council and was expected to announce what many observers considered a long-shot candidacy for county executive.
Mr. Gourdine lived in Fort Washington with his wife, Mary.
He earned an undergraduate degree from Howard University in 1973, as well as a law degree in 1977. A Vietnam War veteran, he served for five years as a hearing examiner for the D.C. Department of Transportation.
He was a former scoutmaster, a member of the Coalition of Concerned Black Christian Men and a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Margie Hyslop contributed to this report.

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