- The Washington Times - Friday, July 7, 2006


Lost family rescued after hike in W.Va.

A Bethesda family that went missing during a hike in a remote public hunting and fishing area in West Virginia was found yesterday by state helicopter crews.

The state Aviation Division said Todd and Cathy Robinson, both 43, and their two children, ages three and five, spent the night along a lake at the Handley Wildlife Management Area near Marlinton, W.Va., after getting lost while hiking Thursday.

Overnight temperatures were in the mid-50s, and the family built a fire to stay warm.

The agency said the family was on a camping vacation in the area when they decided to hike at Handley.

Mrs. Robinson and the couple’s five-year-old son were taken to a local hospital for treatment. Their conditions weren’t immediately available, but the Aviation Division said none of the family members appeared to have serious injuries.


Preliminary report on bus crash released

State police investigators said the truck involved in a crash with a bus on Interstate 95 near Aberdeen caused the crash when it left the middle lane and hit the bus on its right side.

Nearly 60 people were injured — including an eight-year-old girl who lost her hand.

In a preliminary report on the crash, police said the crash flattened a tire on the left side of the truck. The tire left a series of pavement markings in the left lane to support these findings.

The bus carrying children from Philadelphia swerved into the median and back across both lanes of northbound I-95, turning over on its left side and coming to rest on the shoulder after the crash on Wednesday.

Two children were in good condition yesterday at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. Two were discharged.

Authorities did not identify the 41-year-old truck driver or the 18-year-old bus driver. Federal law requires that those who drive commercial vehicles interstate must be at least 21.

No charges have been filed.


Boy, 15, indicted in rape, slaying of girl

A Baltimore grand jury has indicted a 15-year-old boy in the rape and slaying of a four-year-old girl.

Ronald Hinton has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape and other sex offense and child abuse counts.

The youth attacked his cousin June 21, authorities said. She died two days later.

Police said the youth, who was baby-sitting the girl, called 911 saying the girl fell after jumping on a bed.

When officers arrived on the scene, they found the girl face down, unconscious and bleeding.

Investigators said the girl was sexually assaulted, beaten with a belt and bitten.

The youth remains held without bail at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

His arraignment has been scheduled for Aug. 4.


Freight train collides with garbage truck

A CSX freight train struck an unoccupied garbage truck on the tracks in Gaithersburg yesterday.

Railroad tracks in both directions were blocked for about an hour, but service was restored.

Capt. Oscar Garcia, a spokesman for the Montgomery County fire department, said there were no injuries reported. No truck driver was found in the area.

The truck and train collided near Chestnut Street and Summit Road just west of the MARC station just before 6 a.m.

The truck flipped over and trash and debris was strewn along the tracks. Part of the body of the truck was ripped off its wheels.

Capt. Garcia said a small amount of fuel has been leaking from the truck, so emergency crews are working to pump out the fuel before they clear more debris.

MARC commuter rail tickets are being honored on Metro’s Red Line.


More police target interstate speeders

Virginia State Police yesterday began a new program called Operation Air, Land & Speed on Interstates 95 and 81 that will “saturate” the highways with extra troopers and aerial speed enforcement.

The added patrols will continue through Monday and are in response to an increase of more than 30 percent in traffic deaths during the July Fourth weekend. There were 21 traffic deaths last weekend, compared with 16 over July Fourth weekend last year.

Col. Steven Flaherty, the state police superintendent, said the special weekend-enforcement effort is about safety and getting drivers to modify their behavior, not about speed traps or writing tickets.

He also said troopers will target speeders, drunken drivers, people not wearing seat belts and “multi-tasking” drivers who, for example, talk on cell phones or read maps while behind the wheel.

The program also will be in place on chosen weekends in August and September, Col. Flaherty said.


Kaine loosens caps on conservation tax

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine recommended loosening caps the General Assembly would place on tax credits allowed for keeping land off-limits to development.

In actions on the same bill, Mr. Kaine agreed with a provision that would end the estate tax, which is imposed after death on the holdings of millionaires.

Mr. Kaine’s amendments boost the annual cap for total value of tax credits per year to $100 million. The legislature had proposed a $50 million cap for 2007 and a $75 million limit each year thereafter within the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, felt the lower cap would neuter what he and lawmakers in both parties called the state’s most effective land conservation and clean-water incentive.

His amendments also eliminate a cap of $750,000 in total credits for any single transaction of land outside the Bay watershed, mostly southwestern and Southside Virginia.


Suspect competent to stand trial

A Frederick County man accused of blowing up his house damaging surrounding properties has been found competent to stand trial.

A Frederick County Circuit Court judge made the ruling Thursday, based on a psychiatric evaluation of Robert Cook.

Mr. Cook, 55, is charged with causing the blast in January at his house in Stephens City.

He also faces 80 counts of property destruction, 68 of which are felony charges, because of the amount of damage. He also faces counts of arson and possession of an explosive device.

Mr. Cook’s court-appointed defense attorney Timothy Coyne asked the judge to separate the property-destruction charges from the others and hold separate trials. The judge said he will rule on the motion later this month.

Frederick County’s fire marshal testified at Mr. Cook’s bond hearing in May that a gas line that supplied heat for Mr. Cook’s house had been tampered with and a cigarette set off the blast.

Mr. Cook, who was home alone at the time of the explosion, suffered burns and was hospitalized for several weeks.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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