- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008



Accident closes icy I-70 for hours

The westbound lanes of Interstate 70 were closed for more than seven hours yesterday after an early morning crash on icy roads.

State police said the driver of a box truck was taken to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center with life-threatening injuries after he was ejected from the cab in a three-vehicle crash.

The box truck, a tractor-trailer and a passenger car all lost control on the icy highway at about 4:40 a.m. The tractor-trailer jackknifed and the box truck spilled its load of liquid cooking oil onto the road surface.

In another accident at about the same time, Alex Keepers, 31, of Frederick, was killed when his Jeep Cherokee slid into the path of a tractor-trailer on the U.S. 15 bridge over the Potomac River near Point of Rocks.


Woman gets stuck in business’ chimney

No, it wasn’t Santa Claus.

A 19-year-old woman got stuck in a two-story chimney about 12:20 a.m. yesterday at her father’s tire shop on Bladensburg Road, apparently because she had locked her wallet and keys inside.

Prince George’s County firefighters were called by the woman’s boyfriend. They found her stuck 14 feet inside the chimney.

Firefighters placed a stool under the woman’s dangling feet to provide support. They then removed part of a wall and began chiseling away at pieces of the chimney until the opening was large enough to pull her out safely.

The woman was evaluated by paramedics and taken to a hospital as a precaution.

5 relatives killed in Ohio crash

A drunken driver sped down an Ohio highway in the wrong direction for about four miles Sunday night before his pickup truck slammed into a minivan carrying a Parkville, Md., family home after a holiday trip, police said.

A woman and four children in the minivan, including an 8-week-old girl, were killed in the crash, which scattered toys, stuffed animals and gift wrap along the edge of the road.

Tests showed that the pickup’s driver had a blood alcohol level of .254 percent, more than three times the legal limit in Ohio of .08 percent, police said.

Michael Gagnon, 24, of Adrian, Mich., was charged yesterday with aggravated vehicular homicide. His speech was slurred, and he smelled of alcohol at the crash scene, according to a police report.

His truck was going north in the southbound lanes of Interstate 280 near Toledo, fire officials said.

Bethany Griffin, 36, Jordan Griffin, 10, Vadi Griffin, 8 weeks, Lacie Burkman, 7, and Haley Burkman, 10, were killed, police said.

Both drivers tried to avoid each other, but the crash ripped a side door off the minivan, throwing out some of the victims.

An infant seat wrapped with pink baby blankets landed in the roadway.

Danny Griffin Jr., 36, who was driving, and two other children — Sidney Griffin, 8, and Beu Burkman, 8 — suffered life-threatening injuries, a spokeswoman at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center said.

The Griffins had been visiting family in Michigan and were returning to Baltimore County.

Mr. Gagnon also was taken to a hospital, but his injuries were not as serious, the spokeswoman said.

Scuba diver dies fulfilling a dream

A Bel Air woman died Sunday after scuba diving off Key Largo.

Nancy Kreiter, 50, was diving with her family in John Pennekamp State Park. Her husband, David Clissold, told officials that she had wanted to learn to dive for 10 years and that they and their two children took scuba diving lessons together to fulfill that dream. They became certified just two days before her death.

Witnesses said that after surfacing, Mrs. Kreiter swam back to a commercial boat they were aboard and collapsed. Another dive boat nearby took her back to shore to waiting paramedics. She was pronounced dead shortly afterward.



Ex-boyfriend charged in fiery assault

A woman was set on fire yesterday by her former boyfriend and suffered critical injuries, authorities said.

Stacey Carter, 49, was arrested and charged with aggravated malicious wounding, police spokeswoman Cynthia Price said.

Fire department Lt. Michael O’Prandy said the woman was taken to Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center after crews were called at 6 a.m. to the Red Roof Inn in southern Richmond.

The victim’s name was not released.


Passenger charged in groping on plane

Federal air marshals charged a Seattle-area man with groping a female passenger aboard a United Airlines flight after it left Washington Dulles International Airport on Sunday. The plane was diverted to Pittsburgh, where the man was removed.

Michael L. Holland, 46, made his initial appearance before a magistrate yesterday on a charge of abusive sexual contact, said Ted Hresko, special agent in charge of the Pittsburgh air marshals’ office.

Mr. Holland had been chatting with the 39-year-old woman on United Flight 917, which was bound for Seattle, Mr. Hresko said.

“The next thing you know, he’s groping her,” Mr. Hresko said. “The flight attendants asked our [air marshals] to get involved.”

Mr. Holland was handcuffed by air marshals and taken to an empty seat in another part of the plane.

The flight left Dulles carrying 182 passengers at 6:08 p.m. and landed in Pittsburgh about an hour later. Pittsburgh airport officials said the flight continued on to Seattle at 9:35 p.m.

Mr. Holland was released on bail. His next court appearance is set for Monday.

“There was no alcohol on his breath, and when he was interviewed, he said he hadn’t had a drink for five years,” Mr. Hresko said. “We have no reason to believe that he was drunk or on any kind of narcotic.”

Abusive sexual contact is a federal misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.


Minister shocked to death in his church

A Roanoke minister died from an accidental electrocution in his church.

Relatives said the Rev. Vachaun Hash, 31, was helping set up for a New Year’s Eve service when the accident happened Sunday evening at the Temple of the Way Out.

Mr. Hash’s brother-in-law, Dominic Austin, told the Roanoke Times that Mr. Hash plugged a cord from a new speaker into the church’s organ, then said, “Help me, Jesus,” and slumped over.

Mr. Austin said one of Mr. Hash’s brothers tried to revive him, to no avail.


‘Famous’ Vick house listed at $1.1 million

The house formerly owned by disgraced NFL star Michael Vick has been listed for sale for $1.1 million.

The listing bills the 15-acre country estate in rural southeastern Virginia as “the famous Michael Vick house.”

The house failed to sell during an auction in mid-December, disappointing a real estate developer who has about $500,000 tied up in the place. At the time, Wilbur Ray Todd Jr. rejected the only serious bid of $747,000, the property’s assessed value for real estate tax purposes.

Vick is serving a 23-month sentence for a dogfighting conspiracy. The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three co-defendants raised pit bulls and trained them for fighting in the area behind the 4,600-square-foot white brick house. Dogs that did not perform well in test fights were executed.

The listing says the property has five bedrooms, 4½ bathrooms, two fireplaces, cathedral ceilings, walk-in closets and an attached, two-car garage.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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