- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2009


Strong winds on Wednesday blew down trees and power lines across the D.C. region, causing thousands of outages and at least one death.

The Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office said Michael C. Kelly, a Roman Catholic priest, was killed Wednesday morning when he was struck by a falling tree.

Authorities said Father Kelly, 53, was driving on Harmony Church Road about 9 a.m. Wednesday when he came across the downed tree. He got out of his car and attempted to move the tree when another motorist stopped to help. A second tree then fell, striking and killing the priest.

Father Kelly was the pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville.

In a statement from the Arlington Diocese, Bishop Paul S. Loverde said he was “deeply saddened” by Father Kelly’s death. The diocese said Father Kelly was traveling to visit another priest when he was killed.

Elsewhere, a 2-year-old boy was injured by a fallen tree branch in Kensington, the Montgomery County fire department said. Medics revived the boy, who was in cardiac arrest, but he was hospitalized in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.

A wind advisory for the region was issued until 10 p.m., with gusts reaching 55 miles per hour at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

By late Wednesday evening, Potomac Electric Power Co. reported more than 9,000 power outages in the District and Maryland; Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. reported more than 18,900 outages and Dominion Virginia Power reported more than 9,600 outages in Northern Virginia. At lunchtime, Dominion reported 36,600 homes and businesses without power.

Maryland’s Transit Administration also said fallen trees near Towson were blocking light rail trains, while a tree tangled in overhead lines forced MARC passengers near the Baltimore area to change trains.

MARC train 423 ended service at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport after a tree fell on overhead lines and signals stopped working, causing a delay of more than an hour. Passengers were transferred to the 427 train.

Baltimore officials also postponed a New Year’s Eve fireworks celebration after high winds and rough harbor waters made it impossible to tow the fireworks barges into place.

Instead, the fireworks will take place Thursday at 7 p.m.

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