- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006



Dead whale found stuck to bow of ship

Marine biologists were conducting a necropsy yesterday on a 35-foot-tall, 17,000-pound sei whale that apparently became attached to a container ship and was dragged into Baltimore’s harbor, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said.

The sei is an endangered whale that is not frequently seen in U.S. waters.

The male whale was found Monday, wrapped around the bow of the 800-foot-tall container ship that was making its way through the Chesapeake Bay to the Seagirt Marine Terminal.

After the ship got to the terminal, the whale was loaded on a flatbed truck with a crane and taken to the Curtis Bay landfill for a necropsy.


Burning ban lifted in three counties

A ban on open burning, imposed because of dry conditions, has been lifted in Calvert, Charles and St. Mary’s counties, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources said yesterday.

Put in place in all but Garrett County on March 31, the ban has been removed in several areas after recent rainfall. It remains in effect for Allegany, Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Frederick, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington, Wicomico and Worcester counties because of lingering dry conditions that could lead to brush fires.



Day-laborer case delayed for a month

Attorneys for seven Fairfax County residents in their case against the town of Herndon for its use of taxpayer funds in the operation of a day-laborer center decided yesterday to postpone the case for at least a month.

Within seconds of beginning the hearing, a follow-up to motions heard in December, the judge and attorneys on both sides realized that the documents they were using for arguments did not match exactly.

Herndon residents complained in the summer that taxpayer monies should not be used to assist the operation of the center, which helps day laborers — many of them illegal aliens — find jobs. The center opened in December at 1481 Sterling Road, once the site of the town’s police station.

Judicial Watch, a public-interest law firm representing the residents, will refile its complaint and submit the documents to county and town attorneys by May 5. The defendants will have 21 days to respond.

Judge Kathleen MacKay was disappointed by the delay. “I really wanted to get something done on this case today,” she said.


Abducted boy safe; woman questioned

A 5-year-old boy abducted yesterday morning in Spotsylvania County was found safe hours later in Henrico County, authorities said.

Spotsylvania Sheriff Howard Smith said Tyron Atkins was in a car with his mother when he was abducted about 10 a.m., prompting the Virginia State Police to issue an Amber Alert.

The Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg reported that Ginald Butler, 30, who was previously involved in a relationship with Tyron’s mother, is accused of running the mother off the road, stealing her purse and taking the boy.

Authorities were able to speak with Miss Butler on her cell phone and persuade her to go to Tyron’s grandmother’s house near Richmond.

When Miss Butler arrived yesterday afternoon, she was arrested and charged with abduction, robbery, hit and run and reckless driving. A man with her has not been arrested.


Repeat child molester sentenced to life

A man convicted for the third time of molesting children will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

George Lee Washington Jones was convicted Monday of rape, aggravated sexual battery and indecent liberties against a 6-year-old girl. Norfolk Circuit Judge Junius Fulton III sentenced him to life plus 30 years.

Jones was convicted in 1976 of five counts of rape and one count of sodomy against a child. Ten years later, he was convicted of attempted sodomy against an 8-year-old. He was released from prison in 1996.


Zebra found dead in moat at zoo

A 2-year-old zebra died in a moat at the Virginia Zoo, the third such death in less than two years.

Ariana was found dead Friday morning by zookeepers. The zebra was an excellent swimmer, and staffers had seen her going in and out of the moat before with no problems, zoo spokeswoman Alison Swank said.

A necropsy confirmed that Ariana drowned, but zookeepers don’t know why she went into the moat.

An indirect lightning strike during a thunderstorm may have frightened Ariana into the moat, Miss Swank said.

Another theory is that she fell into the moat because of breathing problems associated with trouble she had since birth, Miss Swank said.

A 2-day-old gazelle drowned in the moat in August 2004. In October that year, a rhino drowned after it was chased into the moat by Ariana’s father, Zeke. Zeke later tangled with a lion and was sent to live in a wildlife park in Ohio.

The zoo did not release information about Ariana’s death until yesterday because it did not want to overshadow its spring children’s event Saturday, Miss Swank said.

“We have hundreds of animals at the zoo,” Mayor Paul D. Fraim said. “They die in the wild, and they die in captivity. There’s no evidence that the zoo is not performing appropriately.”


Bull Mountain fire mostly contained

A wildfire that burned thousands of acres was nearly contained yesterday, but the firefighting effort continues to keep flames from spreading to homes surrounded by woodland.

About 4,000 acres on Bull Mountain near the North Carolina border were expected to burn by the time the fire is extinguished.

John Campbell, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Forestry, said about 240 fire-fighters are involved, including some from the National Guard.

Mr. Campbell said the blaze is 70 percent to 80 percent contained and should be out by tomorrow.

The fire was ignited by lightning on Friday. It has destroyed at least three houses and several vehicles and outbuildings.

Mr. Campbell said residents were beginning to return to their property yesterday.

The only injury reported involves a Patrick County firefighter, who suffered a broken ankle.


Celebrity eagle dies at wildlife center

A bald eagle that made the rounds of TV talk shows and had a loving following in Virginia died earlier this month at the Wildlife Center of Virginia.

Skyler was 25 years old when he collapsed in his cage and died within minutes, the center said.

In 1984, Skyler lost the tip of a wing when he hit a power line. The injury prevented him from returning to the wild, but he mended and became a star on the wildlife circuit.

Skyler and Edward Clark, co-founder of the Wildlife Center, traveled tens of thousands of miles to educate the public on wildlife conservation.

Skyler appeared on television networks and visited the White House, Congress and scores of schools.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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