THE DISTRICT

Veterans Rally for Medical Care

About 125 veterans and their families rallied outside the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Northwest Washington yesterday, calling on the federal government to increase funding for the 172 medical facilities.

Demonstrators raised banners urging Congress to "Stop the Cuts" and "Save VA Health Care." Speakers told of the growing medical needs of 25 million veterans and decreased government support for their medical services.

"VA employees are trying to care for more and more patients with less and less," said Alma L. Lee, president of the National Veterans Affairs Council. Veterans "have watched our Congress and our administration downsize, demoralize and starve the Department of Veterans Affairs and, by those actions, insult the veterans of this country's military services."

The rally coincided with protests at more than 100 other VA medical facilities nationwide.

MARYLAND

Reston Man Injured in Plane Accident

A Reston man was severely injured yesterday when the propeller of a Korean War vintage fighter plane he was working on activated suddenly, nearly severing a leg and causing deep lacerations on other parts of his body, Ocean City, Md., police reported.

Police identified the man injured in the incident at Ocean City Municipal Airport as Michael Fillucci, 50.

Police spokesman Jay Hancock said Fillucci was trying to prime the engine of a two-seat Chinese Air Force CJ6 trainer by turning the propeller by hand when the engine started unexpectedly.

The accident occurred just after noon, a few hours after Fillucci and friend Michael Murphy, of Woodbine, Md., landed at the airport, Hancock said. Murphy was in the cockpit at the time of the accident.

Witnesses at the airport familiar with the aircraft, sometimes called a "Yak," thought that one of the engine starter controls had been set improperly and caused the engine to start prematurely, Hancock said.

Fillucci was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where he was listed in critical but stable condition yesterday afternoon.

Hancock said that the airport reported the accident to the Federal Aviation Administration but that further investigation was unlikely.

Man Killed in Charles County Car Accident

A 28-year-old Nanjemoy man was killed early yesterday when the car he was driving southbound on Liverpool Point Road in Charles County slammed into a utility pole, dipped into a culvert and hit a tree, police said.

Walter Lee Thompson was pronounced dead on the scene, according to the Charles County Sheriff's Office. His passenger, 25-year-old Brenda Kaye Johnson, of Nanjemoy, ran to a nearby residence for help. Johnson, who also was injured in the crash, was taken by ambulance to Civista Medical Center. She later was transferred to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she is listed in serious condition. The cause of the accident is under investigation.

FBI Vehicle Stolen in Columbia

An FBI vehicle parked in front of an agent's home was stolen, Howard County Police said yesterday. The agent's home also was burglarized.

A neighbor in Columbia called police yesterday morning when he spotted a television in the agent's back yard.

Police contacted the agent, who is away on vacation, and learned that a green 1996 Pontiac Bonneville also had been taken.

The agent, who was not identified, works in the Washington field office of the FBI, said agency spokeswoman Susan Lloyd. The agency is working with police to find the vehicle.

Police said FBI-issued equipment also was in the stolen car. The FBI declined to discuss the contents of the vehicle.

Town House Damaged in Germantown Fire

Montgomery County investigators are trying to determine the cause of a two-alarm blaze that seriously damaged a town house in Germantown early yesterday. No one was injured in the fire, which broke out about 1 a.m. in an unoccupied town house in the 19800 block of Larentia Drive, fire officials said. None of the surrounding town houses were significantly damaged.

VIRGINIA

Unidentified Man Presumed Drowned

Police in Norfolk spent the weekend searching for a 43-year-old man who apparently drowned while trying to help three children on a drifting raft.

Witnesses said the man swam out from shore Saturday afternoon to help the children, who were on a raft that had drifted from Ocean View Beach. Anthony Colon, 21, said that he also swam out to help and that while he was pulling on the raft the older man grabbed at his leg, then went under. Colon said he was not able to bring the man back to the surface.

"I couldn't save the dude, but I saved the children," he said. "I did the best I could." Two of the children were taken to a hospital and appeared to be in good condition, witnesses said. Police would not identify the man or the children.

Ferry to Run Between Norfolk, Hampton

Commuters looking to avoid the often-congested Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel soon will be able to take a ferry instead.

Starting June 18, the 90-foot Zephyr will make 45-minute ferry runs between Norfolk and Hampton. A round-trip ride will cost $10, with a $1 discount if purchased in a book of 10 tickets. A monthly pass will be $180.

The ferry, which seats 149, will operate from 7:15 a.m. until 8:15 p.m. weekdays and until 11:15 p.m. on weekends. It will depart every two hours from each side.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"This is hte parade we never got. It's the homecoming we never got."

--Dave Flores, 50, a Vietnam veteran form Long Beach, Calif., who rode 3,200 miles to reach the Rolling Thunder rally.