- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2009



State sees second swine flu death

The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Wednesday that the state recorded its second swine flu death.

Officials said the person had serious underlying medical conditions. The state’s first death tied to swine flu, an elderly Baltimore resident, also had significant health issues before contracting the flu.

Nationwide, at least 170 people have died from swine flu.

In the state, 686 swine flu cases have been confirmed.


2 killed in car collisions

A car crash killed two people Tuesday night on the Outer Loop of the Capital Beltway.

Police responded about 11 p.m. to southbound Interstate 495 at Clara Barton Parkway, where officials said a Jeep driven by Kelli Russ Loos of Chesapeake, Va., struck a car, forcing it over a guard rail and down a 60-foot embankment.

The car landed on its roof, killing its 39-year-old driver, Gradys Mendoza and a 37-year-old passenger, Franklin Manzanares, both of Springfield.

Authorities said Ms. Loos continued driving to Virginia, where she was involved in another collision.

Virginia State Police arrested her on suspicion of driving under the influence. She was being held in Fairfax County, pending extradition to Maryland.


Gas leak stops train traffic

A large natural gas leak stopped rail traffic in north Baltimore on Wednesday evening.

Fire Department spokesman Kevin Cartwright said the gas leak was underneath a bridge and the department asked that rail traffic, including Amtrak, be stopped in the area.

Mr. Cartwright said the leak apparently was caused by construction work.

No injuries were reported.


Man found dead beneath flipped ATV

An Oldtown man missing for more than a week was found dead from an apparent all-terrain vehicle accident.

Police said friends of 52-year-old Kim David Rohrer found his body Wednesday just off a wooded trail on his property in Allegany County. He was pinned beneath the four-wheeler.

Investigators said the vehicle apparently flipped over as Mr. Rohrer tried to maneuver around a fallen tree on the trail.

Police said an autopsy will be conducted, but no foul play is suspected.

Mr. Rohrer lived alone and hadn’t been seen or heard from since June 26.


Prison chief defends guards’ firing

Maryland Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard on Wednesday stood by his decision to fire 22 correctional officers in a brutality probe despite the mixed results of criminal prosecutions.

Fifteen of the guards dismissed last year from prisons near Hagerstown and Cumberland were criminally charged with assaulting inmates. So far, two have pleaded guilty, one had charges dismissed and one had a trial that ended with a hung jury.

Mr. Maynard said Tuesday that his agency acted within the law and within personnel guidelines in firing the officers.

Prison officials said 18 of the 22 firings have been upheld by administrative law judges. Three officers were ordered reinstated, and one was allowed to retire.

Beside the 22 who were fired, one officer resigned during the investigation.


Destination DC names new president

Destination DC officials announced that one of their own will be the next president and CEO of the city’s tourism bureau.

The convention and tourism group said Wednesday that Elliott Ferguson would lead the organization, after a national search was done. He succeeds Bill Hanbury, who left after eight years to run the United Way chapter for the D.C. area.

Mr. Ferguson had led convention sales and services at Destination DC for more than seven years. Previously, he led convention sales teams in Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.


Indicted fire chief found dead at home

A former Bedford County volunteer fire chief indicted Tuesday on forgery and embezzlement charges was found dead Wednesday at his home.

Maj. Ricky Gardner of the county Sheriff’s Department said authorities were calling the death of 51-year-old Jeffrey Lee Shifflett a possible suicide.

He said the medical examiner’s office will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

Maj. Gardner said deputies found a gun close to Mr. Shifflett’s body when they were called to the house Wednesday morning.

Mr. Shifflett, former chief of the Hardy Fire Department, was indicted by a county grand jury Tuesday on 13 counts of embezzlement and one of forgery. Also indicted on embezzlement counts were Shifflett’s wife, Deborah Lynne, and his adult son, Cory.

Prosecutor Randy Krantz said the case involves between $150,000 and $200,000.

Mr. Shifflett had been on administrative leave since March.


Agency investigates ethanol complaints

The state’s consumer watchdog agency has now received more than 500 complaints from motorists in the Hampton Roads area about high levels of ethanol in gasoline.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services reported Wednesday that it has eight inspectors working on the investigation. The source has not been determined.

Ethanol is blended with gas at terminals before it’s distributed. Too much ethanol may cause cars to backfire and stall, and prompt warning lights to come on.

The complaints have been filed with Consumer Services’ Richmond office since June 8. They now total 532.

The agency said the pace of complaints has slowed.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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