State Troopers Hurt in I-495 Accident

Two Maryland State Police troopers were injured late last night when they pulled over to help a disabled motorist on the outer loop of the Capital Beltway near Bradley Boulevard and were struck from behind by another vehicle, officials said.

The accident occurred about 11:30 p.m., and authorities initially feared the troopers had been gravely injured. A male trooper, working as a field training officer, was inside the vehicle and a female trooper had just stepped out of the vehicle when their cruiser was struck by a Nissan Altima driven by a 64-year-old Springfield man.

The female trooper was thrown over the guardrail and down an embankment along Interstate 495, officials said. The highway was closed briefly while she was put in a helicopter and flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

Officials said she sustained injuries to her right shoulder and left wrist, as well as lacerations on her back.

The male trooper was taken by ambulance to Suburban Hospital with a possible broken arm and an injured collarbone, officials said. The driver of the Altima was not seriously hurt, officials said.

The investigation into the accident was continuing today.

Dowsers Find Some Water for Myersville

Dowsers, it seems, have succeeded where hydro-geologists failed. Well-drillers seeking water for the drought-parched Frederick County town of Myersville hit water yesterday, right where two men using dowsing rods said they would.

"I guess it shows them old boys know what they're doing," said Myersville Mayor Billy Eckstine, who earlier this month called in two local men known for their water-finding skills. One, Dennis Flook, uses a forked stick cut from a wild cherry tree. The other, Larry Doub, uses L-shaped metal rods.

Wells drilled earlier this summer at three places suggested by an engineering firm had been either dry holes or yielded a paltry three or four gallons per minute, Eckstine said.

Eckstine acknowledges that the dowsers' hole, about 300-feet deep, yields only 13 gallons per minute. "That's about the yield you'd want for maybe a single big house in the country," scoffed Baltimore hydro-geologist Tucker Moorshead. Eckstine said: "It's 13 gallons we didn't have before."

The drilling is expected to continue today, in other spots suggested by the dowsers.

Montgomery to Pass Out Free Gun Locks

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) announced the start of a handgun safety campaign yesterday that will include free distribution of 1,000 gun locks required by county law.

The $35,000 effort will feature public service announcements on cable television and distribution of pamphlets detailing ways to protect children from gun-inflicted injuries. A letter will also be mailed to county pediatricians and primary-care physicians, urging them to explain gun-safety measures to parents.

The county purchased the 1,000 safety locks that render handguns inoperable when inserted into their barrels. Montgomery law requires gun sellers to provide locks to handgun purchasers. County workers give the locks away free during public events to anyone who signs a safety contract promising to use them.

Therapy Begins After Half of Brain Removed

A teenager who had half her brain removed to stem the spread of a deadly neurological disease was released from Johns Hopkins Children's Center yesterday to begin an arduous course of physical therapy.

Amber Ramirez, 15, was transferred to Mount Washington Pediatrics Hospital in Baltimore, where she will begin physical and speech therapy to help recover some of the functions she lost when surgeons removed the left half of her brain on July 13.

Amber is standing with assistance and walking with a brace on her right leg. She's not yet talking but is expected to do so soon, her surgeon, Benjamin Carson, said.

Carson said Amber has been angry and depressed and not very cooperative, which makes it difficult to track her progress. But, he said, that's understandable in a teenager who has undergone major surgery.

In two or three weeks, Amber will be able to return to her home in Lincoln, Neb., where she will continue rehabilitation on an outpatient basis, Carson said.

Emergency Communications Pass Y2K Test

Tests of Maryland's emergency medical communications systems yesterday indicated that state government computers will function without interruption when the year 2000 arrives, Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) announced.

Glendening watched several of the tests at the communications center of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services System, where computer clocks were rolled forward to simulate what will happen on the night of Dec. 31 and early Jan. 1.

The so-called Y2K computer problem stems from the use of two-digit date fields in many computers that might cause them to interpret "00" as 1900, not 2000, leading them to malfunction or misread data.

In the tests, the centralized ambulance and hospital communication for the state's Emergency Medical Services, the Maryland State Police dispatch system and the radio communications for the state medevac program functioned smoothly, the governor's office said.


Corrections Officials Appointed

Odie Washington, head of the D.C. Department of Corrections, announced several key appointments yesterday.

Lawrence Greer was named deputy director for operations and will oversee the Lorton Correctional Complex in Fairfax County and the D.C. jail. Greer is a former warden with the federal Bureau of Prisons who was hired by the corrections department in December 1998 as warden for the central facility at Lorton.

James Anthony was named acting deputy director for administration.

Anthony was general assistant to Michelle Elzie, one of four top administrators ousted last week during a department shake-up. Elzie was reassigned as warden of the central facility.

Other appointments include: Gregory Brown to be acting chief financial officer; Adrienne Poteat, who was removed last week as deputy director for institutions, to be maximum-security prison warden; Dennis Harrison, deputy warden at the Modular 400 at the central prison; and James Murphy, deputy warden for operations at the maximum-security prison.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You would be hard pressed to find 3,000 acres like this anywhere else in the region. It's a gem." -- Gerald W. Hyland, a Fairfax County supervisor, on plans for redeveloping the 3,200-acre Lorton prison property.