MARYLAND

Reservoir Tapped to Help Potomac

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission released almost 25 million gallons of water from a reservoir in western Montgomery County on Thursday night and yesterday to help improve the flow of the drought-depleted Potomac River.

Officials of the suburban Maryland agency had been considering a 2-billion-gallon release from the Little Seneca Reservoir, almost half its capacity. Instead, a consortium of local water agencies agreed to tap 1 billion gallons from the larger Jennings Randolph and Savage reservoirs farther upstream over the course of this week.

Officials thought that release would be enough to increase the flow of the Potomac, the source of most of the area's drinking water. But the water was slow arriving in the Washington area, and the Little Seneca release was undertaken to help the river in the meantime.

Boaters who use the Little Seneca probably will not notice the drop of less than four inches in the reservoir's water level, WSSC officials said.

Montgomery Youth Hit by Trooper's Car

A 13-year-old Montgomery County youth was critically injured yesterday after being struck by a Maryland State Police car in Rockville, officials said.

Witnesses told police that he was walking with other youths about 3 p.m. on the sidewalk of the northbound lane of Seven Locks Road near Montrose Road when he stepped in front of a stopped Ride-On bus. The youth, whom police would not identify, then walked out into traffic and was struck by the trooper's car.

The trooper, based at the Rockville barracks, left her car to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on the youth, who was then taken by ambulance to the nearby Islamic Education Center, then flown to Children's Hospital. A police spokesman said the youth was being treated for "severe head injuries."

A state police crash team launched an investigation. Investigators have ruled out speed as a factor.

Howard County Police Face Bias Suit

A Baltimore man has filed an $11 million class-action discrimination lawsuit against the Howard County Police Department, alleging the department sets lower hiring standards for women and minorities than for white men over 40 years old.

Michael S. Matthews, 47, who was passed over for a police job in Howard in 1995, filed the suit in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. He argued in court papers that women and minorities were given unfair advantages on police physical and personality tests. In his suit, Matthews said he is suing on behalf of white male applicants who were not given "a full and fair" chance to compete for Howard police jobs.

A Howard police spokesman declined to comment on the suit.

Ostrich at Large on Eastern Shore

A runaway ostrich with a razor-sharp beak and a kick more powerful than that of a horse was loose yesterday on the Eastern Shore.

The large bird apparently escaped over a five-foot fence Monday at a farm in White Haven, said Steve Graham, interim director of the Wicomico County Humane Society. A crew from his group, the Salisbury Zoo and county animal control corralled four other birds, but one got away.

Graham and zoo director Jim Rapp declined to say who owns the ostriches. But Rapp said the owner lives in Baltimore and checks on the birds on weekends.

Motorcyclist Killed in Deer Collision

A motorcyclist was killed and his passenger was critically injured when the vehicle collided with a deer that had bounded onto Interstate 195 in Baltimore County.

Paul F. Cullens, 42, of Baltimore was pronounced dead at the scene. Passenger Kelly M. Thiels, 28, also of Baltimore, was admitted to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The accident, which killed the deer, occurred about 9:30 p.m. Thursday in the westbound lane of I-195, near the I-95 interchange south of Baltimore.

THE DISTRICT

Firetrucks Involved in 2 Crashes

Two firetrucks responding to emergency calls were involved in unrelated traffic collisions with other vehicles yesterday, leaving five people injured and one of the trucks destroyed.

The first crash occurred about 7:10 a.m., when a firetruck heading east on Missouri Avenue NW collided with a sport utility vehicle going north on North Capitol Street that failed to yield the right of way, said Battalion Chief Stephen M. Reid, a fire department spokesman. The car flipped over and landed on its roof, Reid said. Its driver, a 46-year-old man, was treated at Washington Hospital Center, said spokesman LeRoy Tillman. The driver was issued a ticket for failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.

Shortly after 1 p.m., a second firetruck going through a green light on Gallatin Street NW swerved to avoid hitting a Hyundai traveling north on Fifth Street NW and hit a traffic-light pole and a tree, knocking them over.

All four firefighters in the truck were taken to Washington Hospital Center. Three were treated, and a fourth was listed in fair condition, Tillman said.

The driver of the Hyundai left the scene, fire officials said. The firetruck will cost $275,000 to replace, D.C. Fire Chief Donald Edwards said.

VIRGINIA

Blast Was an Accident, Officials Say

The crew working during a blasting accident that rained rocks onto a Loudoun County neighborhood followed all safety guidelines, fire officials said yesterday.

"They . . . actually took extra precautions," said Mary Maguire, spokeswoman for Loudoun County Fire-Rescue Services, which investigated the incident. "It was purely an accident."

Workers for William A. Hazel Co. were blasting in the Broadlands subdivision July 8 when an eight-foot-thick boulder split and rocks under it flew into the air, the developer of the community said.

The blasting was done a little more than 200 feet from the nearest home. Rocks struck three houses, smashing through the kitchen windows of one and denting the garage roof of another. No one was injured.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"The numbers are astounding. We've demonstrated that people receiving public assistance really want to work."

--Lynda G. Fox, secretary of the Maryland Department of Human Resources, on figures showing that the state's welfare rolls have declined by 61 percent, or 141,000 people, in the past four years.