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Four Crashes on I-81; 2 Killed; Plea Entered in '08 Md. Slaying; Takoma Metro Station Open Late; Fourth Swine Flu Death in Md.; Weekly Loudoun Paper Folds

The mangled remains of a helicopter hang from a tow truck on Friday. The helicopter crashed late Thursday into the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in western Maryland and burst into flames, killing three employees of a flight instruction company and a passenger, the company said Friday.
The mangled remains of a helicopter hang from a tow truck on Friday. The helicopter crashed late Thursday into the eastbound lanes of Interstate 70 in western Maryland and burst into flames, killing three employees of a flight instruction company and a passenger, the company said Friday. (By Timothy Jacobsen -- Associated Press)

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

HEALTH

Fourth Swine Flu Death in Md.

Maryland health officials Friday reported the state's fourth swine flu-related death, an adult from the Eastern Shore. Officials said that unlike others who have died from the virus, the victim appeared without underlying medical conditions or risk factors, but they are still investigating. The state does not details about those who have died.

On Thursday, Virginia health officials confirmed the state's fourth death from swine flu, also known as H1N1. The victim was a Prince William County resident who had underlying health conditions. There have been no reported deaths in the District. About 263 people have died nationwide.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

Four Crashes on I-81; 2 Killed

Virginia State Police responded to four separate crashes, one of which killed two people, along a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 81 near Interstate 66 between Thursday evening and Friday morning. The crashes involved nine tractor-trailers and two passenger vehicles and also left several people injured.

The fatal crash occurred about 10:15 p.m. Thursday as traffic was backed up three to four miles because of an earlier accident. A northbound tractor-trailer "failed to slow in time" and struck a passenger vehicle, police said. The passenger vehicle was thrust underneath the tractor-trailer in front of it, setting off a chain reaction in which two other tractor-trailers collided. During the crash, a side fuel tank on one of the trucks ruptured and "a fire spread rapidly through the vehicles, burning the passenger vehicle beyond recognition," according to a police news release.

The two people in the passenger vehicle died at the scene, police said. Police would not identify them, but family members said they were Stone Taylor Weeks, 24, and William Holt Weeks, 20. The brothers were driving from Texas to Rockville to visit their parents, former Washington Post reporter and editor Linton Weeks and Jan Taylor Weeks, a painter. They were to attend a book party for historian Douglas Brinkley, for whom Stone Weeks worked as a researcher. The investigation is continuing, police said.

In the first of the other three crashes, which caused the initial backup, a tractor-trailer ran off the road and overturned in the median, spilling its load of watermelons about 7:20 p.m. Thursday. The driver suffered minor injuries. Then, at 1 a.m. Friday, a tractor-trailer struck another tractor-trailer while trying to change lanes. The second tractor-trailer hit a third, which then hit a passenger vehicle. No one was seriously injured.

About four hours later, a tractor-trailer carrying grapes ran off the right side of the road as it was passing the scene of the fatal crash and overturned. The driver suffered minor injuries.

-- Christian Davenport


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