30 Hurt When Beam Falls at Nightclub

About 30 people were injured early yesterday at a D.C. nightclub when a wooden beam with attached lighting and speakers fell onto a crowded dance floor, witnesses said.

The accident, which sent 15 people to hospitals, occurred about 1 a.m. at Polly Esther's, a three-floor nightclub at 650 12th St. NW. The beam fell without warning onto the second floor, according to several people who were injured. They said nails sticking out of the beam caused some cuts.

"What I remember is feeling glass falling on me and looking up and seeing the structure coming right at me," Christian Ryholt said. Ryholt, of Quantico, a 24-year-old Marine, said he was taken to Georgetown University Hospital, where he received stitches for a cut in his arm.

Stephanie Powers, 23, a Fairfax County Park Authority employee who was not hurt in the accident, said she helped others lift the beam off someone who was trapped underneath. "It came down all in one piece," she said. "It was, like, very horrifying."

D.C. Fire Department Battalion Chief Beatrice Rudder, who was on the scene after the accident, said fire and building inspectors were called to the club. Inspectors could not be reached for comment.

Calls seeking interviews with club management were left with an answering service, but no calls were returned yesterday.

Three Injured by Hit-and-Run Driver

Three pedestrians were struck early yesterday at a downtown Washington intersection by a driver who left the scene without stopping, according to D.C. police.

The 3:30 a.m. incident at 13th and I streets NW left one person in critical condition at a hospital, police said. The others were treated for minor injuries. Police are looking for a light-colored, two-door Mazda MX6 with damage to the right front and possibly to the right side. Police declined to release the names of the pedestrians.


Relative Held After Triple Stabbing

Three women were stabbed, including one who was in critical condition last night, after a family dispute in Landover yesterday afternoon, police said.

Prince George's County police said the suspect, a 32-year-old Cheverly woman, was an uninvited family member who entered a home in the 7400 block of Village Green Terrace about 4:10 p.m. The suspect allegedly stabbed Juanita Elizabeth Harrison, 35, numerous times, then stabbed two family members who intervened and eventually subdued her.

Harrison was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, as was a 58-year-old Landover woman who was listed in serious condition with a stab wound in her right eye. A 60-year-old Washington woman was treated at the scene for a cut to the left arm.

The suspect was being held in the Prince George's County jail last night without bond. Police were seeking to file three counts of first-degree assault against the suspect, Cpl. Timothy Estes said.

One-Car Accident Kills Youth, 17

A 17-year-old was killed early yesterday when the car he was riding in veered into a tree in Temple Hills.

Prince George's County police identified the dead youth as Jonathan Carl Hansborough, of Terence Drive in Clinton. The accident occurred at 3:45 a.m. on southbound Branch Avenue near Old Branch Road. The driver, who fell asleep at the wheel, was in serious condition with hip injuries but was expected to survive, police said.


Three Critically Injured on I-66

Three young women were critically injured yesterday evening when the car in which they were riding overturned on Interstate 66 in Fairfax County.

Virginia State Police said the one-car accident occurred about 6:10 p.m. in the eastbound lanes of I-66 near the Fairfax County Parkway. Investigators were looking for witnesses yesterday to determine what caused the accident.

All three passengers in the car were taken by helicopter to Inova Fairfax Hospital. Their names were not released, but hospital officials said all three were in their late teens or early twenties.

Harm to Tobacco Farmers Foreseen

Rising cigarette prices will hurt tobacco farmers more than they will the tobacco manufacturers who have been the intended target of cigarette lawsuits, according to a Virginia Tech study.

The report, "Changing Prices, Changing Cigarette Consumption," says cigarette companies have raised prices by an average of 45 cents per pack to compensate for the more than $200 billion they agreed last year to pay to settle lawsuits with 46 states. The rising prices mean that fewer people will smoke, but cigarette companies might make more money because the percentage increase in price will be larger than the percentage decline in the number of cigarettes consumed, the study says.

"Selling a smaller quantity of cigarettes domestically could actually raise total revenue to tobacco companies," the study says.

But the expected decline in smoking will mean that less tobacco is needed, and that will cut into tobacco farmers' income, the study concludes. The report predicts that some small tobacco farmers will be forced out of the market.

The study also predicts that higher cigarette prices will cut youth smoking by 26 percent over the next six years. Young people, it says, have less firmly established smoking habits and less money, so higher prices will drive them away more easily.

Virginia Beach Assesses Traffic Change

Virginia Beach's decision to shut down its major traffic arteries for the three-day July Fourth weekend seems to be working well, officials said.

The city closed its central beachfront roads to cars in an effort to deal with the gridlock and behavior problems Virginia Beach has experienced during past holidays.

Officials said a ferry service had successfully moved thousands of motorists from satellite parking to the shore front. Beach tourists and merchants who originally were apprehensive about leaving their cars and taking the bus said the new plan seemed to go smoothly.

"I haven't heard a complaint yet," said shop owner Joseph Hawa. "Most of these people would still be in traffic waiting to get down here."


"I've sprayed at least 50, including myself. It's not an official job. I just decided to do it."

-- National Park Service ranger Nicholas Karim, who sprayed passersby on the Mall yesterday with a gentle mist of water.