Monday, September 1, 2003

A student of Sidwell Friends School in Northwest and a woman from Brandywine were killed in separate accidents over the Labor Day weekend, as authorities in Maryland cracked down on drunk drivers and speeders, police said.

In the first accident, police said Tyler Rusch, 18, of Northwest, was driving in the 5000 block of Loughboro Road NW about 2:30 yesterday morning, when his car hit a tree, flipped over and rolled into a home construction site.

Residents heard the crash and at least one person called police, who couldn’t initially find the car. D.C. police said Tyler’s car became hidden in the foundation of the unfinished house. His car and body weren’t found until 9 a.m. Police believe Tyler may have fallen asleep at the wheel of his 1988 Mercedes. Tyler attended Sidwell Friends School, where he played football and baseball.

In Maryland, a woman whose name has not been released died yesterday morning after her Buick Century ran into the rear of a tractor-trailer late Sunday. The accident happened around 5:15 p.m. at Branch Avenue at Short Cut Road in Brandywine.

Maryland State Police said the tractor-trailer was stopped in the merge lane on the southbound side of Branch Avenue. Trooper Otis Ashton said the woman driving the Buick ran off the road and slammed into the tractor-trailer. He said police were investigating whether charges should be filed.

The fatal accidents were part of several incidents that occurred over the Labor Day holiday weekend, as police in Maryland and Virginia put more troopers on the highways to target drunk and aggressive drivers and speeders.

Maryland State police said the weekend’s Operation MSP Blitz was a big success. A federal grant paid for the overtime involved in the operation, police said.

“If you were drinking and driving, speeding or driving aggressively this Labor Day you were probably stopped,” said Maryland State Trooper Sgt. Mike Thomas about Operation MSP Blitz.

Police said a number of speeders and drunk and aggressive drivers were pulled over. On Saturday night alone, 29 of 100 drivers stopped in Prince George’s County were charged with driving under the influence.

Authorities said final numbers for the operation would be released later today.

Meanwhile, a house fire in Northeast yesterday morning almost claimed the life of a dog named Uno.

D.C. fire officials said the 4-year-old mastiff survived a house fire in the 4200 block of Clay Street after nearly suffocating in heavy smoke.

Alan Etter, spokesman for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said yesterday the dog wasn’t breathing when firefighters found her on the first floor of the home about 5:40 a.m. They arrived at the house because of a fire on the roof.

Uno collapsed near a door, Mr. Etter said.

He said Kevin Anderson, a firefighter with Engine Co. 30, carried the dog out of the house. After being placed on the sidewalk, Uno began to breathe on her own. The dog’s owner wasn’t home at the time of the blaze.

Mr. Etter said no one else was hurt.

A faulty feeder line caused the electrical fire on the roof of the house and caused about $60,000 in damage, he said.

Mr. Etter said that without an aggressive interior attack against the fire, Uno never would have been found.

“That’s the only reason they found this dog,” he said. “They did a terrific job.”

Also yesterday morning, a woman in Vienna, Va., found a bus spray-painted with Nazi swastikas and other hate symbols parked in the driveway of her home in the 2900 block of Cedar Lane.

Similar symbols were found spray-painted on her gazebo. Fairfax County police said they were investigating the incident as a hate crime.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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