- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006


Man tries to jump White House fence

The Secret Service apprehended a man who was trying to jump the fence on the south side of the White House yesterday.

Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur identified the man as Roger Witmer, 44, of the District, who faces charges of unlawful entry and disorderly conduct.

Members of the uniformed division captured Mr. Witmer before he got over the fence, Mr. Mazur said, but he threw over plastic bags, and officials shut down traffic on the south side of the White House so the bags could be examined for explosives. None was found.

President Bush was on a bike ride in Beltsville when Mr. Witmer was taken into custody. The Secret Service was examining the package when Mr. Bush returned, so his motorcade was detoured to an alternative entrance on the north side.



City reintroduces Friday foot patrols

The Baltimore Police Department is bringing back foot patrols on Friday nights, typically the busiest time of the week for criminal activity.

About 60 additional officers took to the streets this past Friday for the fourth so-called “all-out” since mid-March, and the practice will continue Fridays through July.

In addition, 30 other officers have been reassigned from administrative positions to daily patrol.

Police officials said the extra presence is making a difference. Violent crime this year was up 13 percent through March, compared with the same time a year ago. But the amount is roughly equal to that in the first half of 2005 since the foot patrols started, police said.


Clam dredging remains divisive

In Maryland’s Atlantic coastal bays, a dispute over whether clam dredgers are ruining the environment has grabbed the attention of state lawmakers and put recreational anglers and working watermen on opposite sides.

The question is whether the state should outlaw dredging in the back bays, the shallow lagoons between Ocean City and Assateague Island and the mainland.

Recreational fishermen and waterfront landowners have argued the practice should be banned, as it is in parts of the Chesapeake Bay. They say the dredging clouds the water and rips up crucial submerged vegetation, which provides habitat for fish. They also argue that clams have been overharvested in the lagoons.

According to state estimates, only about 25 boats are licensed to harvest clams from the coastal bays, all using mechanical dredgers. Only two were licensed to harvest oysters.

But fishermen say those few boats are making a mess of the lagoons.

“A small number of very intensive dredge boats are impacting a fairly significant ecosystem,” said Chris Dollar, a spokesman for the Maryland Saltwater Sportfishermen’s Association.

The association pushed a bill in the last session of the General Assembly to ban clam and oyster dredging in the bays. After a rancorous debate, the House passed it 88-44. But the matter never made it to a vote in the Senate.


Arsonist escapes from custody

A convicted arsonist escaped from the Eastern Pre-Release Unit on Saturday night, authorities.

Robert Whetzel, 46, who was serving a 10-year sentence, was missing at the time of a bunk check, and a corrections spokesman said he was ruled an escapee at 7:30 p.m.

George Gregory, a spokesman for the Maryland Division of Corrections, said Whetzel’s last known address is on Princeton Lane in Bel Air.

He began serving his sentence in June 1999.


Two drivers killed in Beltway crash

All lanes on the Inner Loop of the Beltway were closed last night for more than four hours after a three-vehicle accident killed two persons.

Maryland State Police said a pickup truck was traveling on the Outer Loop about 6 p.m. just north of Richie-Marlboro Road, when the driver lost control, veered left through the median, went airborne over the guardrail and crashed into a sport utility vehicle heading in the other direction.

Both drivers were killed.

A second SUV crashed into the back of the first SUV, and the driver of that vehicle was taken to a hospital. The condition of that driver was not known.

The names of the victims were not released.


Aging pipes leak sewage into homes

Cleanup and repairs continued yesterday where raw sewage spewed into the basements of at least five homes over the past few days.

Residents and Baltimore County public works officials said heavy rains Thursday and Friday got into 80-year-old sewer pipes lined with terra cotta.

The pipes leaked, forming a sinkhole, and the resulting pressure shot raw sewage into basements of homes on North Point Boulevard.

The cleanup could take a few more days.


Two Virginia pilots killed in plane crash

The two pilots killed in a plane crash Saturday afternoon in Groton, Conn., and their passengers who survived all were from Tidewater Virginia, authorities said yesterday.

The pilots of the private Learjet that crashed in a cove were identified as Robert Janule, 59, of Hampton, and Michael Kiser, 55, of Suffolk,

The three passengers, businessmen heading to a charity event in Connecticut, suffered minor injuries. They were identified as Douglas Fuller, 50, and W. Preston Fussell, 52, of Chesapeake, and Norman Fortner, 53, of Suffolk.

“When we came through the fog, I noticed we were much lower than expected from my experience flying on jets,” Mr. Fuller said in an interview published in the Day of New London yesterday.

The pilot tried to gain altitude and hit a piling-mounted light about 1,800 feet from the runway. The plane flipped in the air and landed upside down in Baker Cove, Mr. Fuller said.

Water filled the cabin and the emergency exit was submerged, Mr. Fuller said.

Mr. Fussell was semiconscious, and Mr. Fortner kept Mr. Fussell’s head above water as Mr. Fuller searched for the emergency exit underwater.

“I remembered the captain’s instructions on what to do,” Mr. Fuller said.

Moments later, the three survivors were pulled from the water by three high-school students who had been fishing from a dinghy.

The jet is owned by religious broadcaster the Rev. Pat Robertson, who wasn’t on board. Mr. Robertson’s company rents the plane out and has a leasing agreement with International Jet Charter of Norfolk, which chartered the plane Saturday.

The plane, which was heading to the Groton-New London Airport, went down in heavy fog. Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies were back at the site yesterday in their ongoing investigation.


Fires destroyed revitalization effort

A fire that destroyed three buildings late last month set back a revitalization of this central Shenandoah Valley town.

The fire began inside a sign shop and spread to an apartment complex on one side and destroyed a hardware store on the other that had been a local landmark and community gathering spot. A cause has not been determined.

Since 2000, the town has spent $1 million in state and federal grant money and $188,000 of its own refurbishing its business district.

Clinton Lucas Jr., mayor of the Page County town of 1,800, wonders whether the town will ever get back the businesses, the small-town hangout and the momentum for a nearly completed revitalization project.

Iron ore attracted the town’s original founders in the 1830s, giving rise to an iron works and the rail station by the late 19th century. The station is still operating.


Army implodes Fort Myer housing

With a series of loud bangs, the Army imploded a high-rise building on the campus of Fort Myer yesterday morning.

The 12-story Tencza Terrace was built in 1966 for military housing. The brick-and-concrete building was removed to make way for a new security control point at the Hatfield Gate.

Some nearby residents watched the implosion, which took about 20 seconds. About 100 pounds of dynamite brought the building down.

For the past year, the Tencza Terrace has been stripped of almost everything of value. Most of the debris will be used as fill to raise the level of nearby parking lots.


Woman on sofa killed by runaway car

A Hampton woman who was sitting on her sofa watching television while her two daughters played upstairs was killed yesterday when a car plowed into her home.

Police said Michelle Hart, 33, died at the scene.

Two juveniles thought to have been in the black Jeep Cherokee that crashed into the home were being sought.

The girls in the home were not injured.

Police said the Jeep was stolen after it was left with the keys in the ignition while the owner went into a convenience store. They said that by the time the man called police, they had already received a report about the vehicle crashing into the nearby home.

Witnesses reported seeing two boys fleeing the scene.


Remains of new born found in woods

The remains of a newborn baby were found yesterday afternoon in a patch of woods in the 5800 block of Westwater Court.

Police said the remains had been there for less than a week, but because of decomposition, the baby’s sex has not been determined.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Fairfax County police.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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