DUI Charge for Driver Who Hit Picnickers

A Florida woman has been charged in connection with a car accident Saturday night that left seven picnickers injured at Seneca Creek State Park in Montgomery County.

Cheryl F. Carey, 28, of West Palm Beach, Fla., was charged with driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while intoxicated, possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia, and failure to control her speed to avoid a collision.

She was driving a 1990 BMW with Virginia tags when, she said, she crashed her car "due to a bottle stuck against the gas pedal," according to charging documents.

Police arriving on the scene shortly after 8 p.m. found the BMW smashed into two cars in the parking lot at Seneca Creek, near Gaithersburg. Police said her car had struck three parked cars and seven people who had been standing nearby. None of the injuries was life-threatening, but one person was flown to Suburban Hospital in serious condition.

Police who searched Carey's car said they found marijuana and rolling papers. They also found an empty bottle of wine and cans of beer, said police spokesman Derek Baliles.

After spending Saturday night at the Montgomery County jail, Carey was being held yesterday on $7,500 bond pending her release.

Man Fatally Shot in District Heights

A man was fatally shot yesterday in the District Heights area of Prince George's County, police said.

The victim, who police said appeared to be in his twenties, was found dead about 5:45 p.m. in a parking lot in the 1800 block of Addison Road South. Police said the man appeared to have been shot multiple times.

Police said the man's identity was being withheld pending positive identification and notification of family members. A suspect taken into custody nearby a short time later was being questioned last night, but police said no charges had been filed.

Police said they had no motive in the slaying.


Man Found Fatally Shot in NW

The body of an unidentified man who had been shot in the head was found early yesterday in the Petworth neighborhood of Northwest Washington, police said.

The body was discovered about 1:30 a.m. in the 1300 block of Taylor Street NW. Police ruled the case a homicide but knew of no motive, suspects or witnesses to the crime.


Baby-Switch Mother Loses Custody of Son

The mother of one of the two girls switched at birth at the University of Virginia Medical Center lost custody of her oldest son last week to the boy's father.

A Green County Juvenile and Domestic Relations judge ordered that 13-year-old Wesley Johnson live with his father during the next school term. Previously, the boy was spending the summers with his father, Rodney Ortmyer, and the school year with his mother, Paula Johnson.

Johnson has filed a lawsuit against the University of Virginia Medical Center, saying it owes her $31 million for pain caused when her newborn daughter was switched at birth four years ago with the daughter of another couple. The other couple died in a car accident shortly before the birth switch came to light, and the girl, Rebecca Grace Chittum, is now being raised by her grandparents in Buena Vista, Va.

Johnson is raising Callie Marie Johnson but has also sued for custody of Rebecca, her biological daughter.

A source familiar with the case said Ortmyer, an electrician who lives in Fauquier County, filed papers seeking full custody of his son in September, after the baby switch was discovered. But, the source said, the boy's difficulties preceded that case.

Last Thursday's hearing, which took 11 hours, was the third time the couple had been in court over the boy since the spring.

Ortmyer's attorney, Jon Shields of Manassas, declined to comment on the case. Cynthia Johnson, Paula Johnson's Charlottesville attorney, who is representing her in the University of Virginia lawsuit but did not represent her in this custody dispute, said she did not expect the custody case to affect her client's attempt to gain custody of her biological daughter.

The case involving Wesley, Cynthia Johnson said, has "nothing to do" with Rebecca's case.

Education Council Names Acting Director

Virginia's State Council of Higher Education named Phyllis Palmiero yesterday as its acting director after Executive Director William B. Allen resigned unexpectedly two weeks ago.

Palmiero has served as the council's deputy director for administration since September.

Allen was a strong proponent of basing funding for universities in part on a school's performance. He had said he was leaving for "professional reasons" unrelated to education policy.

Independence Sought for Veterans Center

Sen. John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke) plans to introduce a bill during the next General Assembly session that would give the Virginia Veterans Care Center a greater degree of independence from the state.

Citing the slow progress in developing a "wander garden" at the center, Edwards said he wants to free the center from "cumbersome bureaucracy."

A wander garden is an enclosed space where Alzheimer's patients are free to roam without endangering their safety. Roaming is a common symptom of the disease.

The center's board of trustees approved a wander garden a year ago, but questions about whether the state's only privatized agency has to file paperwork generally required for state capital projects has stalled the project.

Edwards thinks the paperwork is unnecessary because the center isn't asking for money. The center has the $900,000 needed to cover the cost in its reserve account. Most of that can be reimbursed by the federal government.

Control of the center has been a volatile issue for years. As governor, George Allen privatized the agency but later tried unsuccessfully to increase control over it by placing it under the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Qoute of the Day

"This was my history. And this day is bringing it all back."

--Theft victim Peggy Cooney, of Montgomery Village, on an exhibition of stolen jewelry and other valuables held by Montgomery County police and U.S. Customs officials who are trying to return the goods to their rightful owners.