VIRGINIA

Fairfax Man Charged in Two-Car Crash

A 21-year-old Fairfax County man has been charged with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in a two-vehicle crash late Saturday that seriously injured a mother and daughter, police said yesterday.

A police officer had stopped a 1993 Ford Thunderbird for speeding on Beulah Street near Franconia Road about 11:30 p.m. when the driver, Michael Williams, took off, police said. After traveling a short distance south on Beulah, Williams lost control of his car near Clames Drive and went into the northbound lane of Beulah, they said.

Williams's car was struck broadside by a 1988 Dodge Caravan driven by Gerald Devers, 52, of the 4800 block of Welford Street in the Woodlawn area, police said. Kathy Devers, 47, a front-seat passenger, was flown to Inova Fairfax Hospital and admitted to intensive care with spinal and internal injuries, police said. Kristen Devers, 13, a rear-seat passenger, was admitted to the same hospital with spinal and internal injuries.

Gerald Devers and Williams were treated for minor injuries. Williams, of the 6500 block of China Grove Court in the Franconia area, also was charged with driving on a suspended license and was held without bond. Additional charges are pending, police said.

MARYLAND

Riverdale Teen Shot in Robbery Attempt

A 16-year-old Riverdale resident was in serious but stable condition after being shot in the chest early yesterday morning, Prince George's County police said.

Police Cpl. Joe Merkel said the young man, whose name was not released, was standing in front of an apartment complex in the 6800 block of Riverdale Road when a blue four-door car with two occupants inside approached him.

After talking for a few minutes, Merkel said, one of the car's occupants got out and followed the victim behind the apartment building, where he attempted to rob the 16-year-old. The suspect pulled out a handgun and shot the victim once in the chest during a struggle, Merkel said.

The victim ran back to the front of the complex, and another resident called police. The car's driver and the shooting suspect fled. The victim was taken by ambulance to a local hospital, where he underwent an emergency operation.

No arrests have been made, Merkel said. The victim told police that he did not know the men in the car.

Boy Killed in Floyd-Related Accident

More than three weeks after Hurricane Floyd struck, an 8-year-old Damascus boy became the storm's latest victim when the car driven by his father bypassed barricades and warning signs in a failed attempt to get around a washed-out bridge near Norlina, N.C.

Brandon Davis died in the wreck late Saturday on State Road 1213 in Warren County, N.C., just north of Norlina.

The car ran into a culvert and hit a bank of a ditch before stopping, according to the report filed by North Carolina state Trooper J.K. Aiken.

Sgt. Eric Jackson of the North Carolina Highway Patrol in Henderson said the bridge was washed out because of the hurricane, which dumped up to 20 inches of rain in some places when it struck Sept. 16 and 17.

Aiken said yesterday that construction barriers warning of the closed road were posted a half-mile from the bridge with large, orange signs warning of the closing 1,000 feet and 500 feet away.

"What it looked like . . . is maybe he was expecting it to be water across the road somewhere," Aiken said. "But the bridge is gone."

Four others in the car were taken to Maria Parham Hospital in Henderson, then were transferred to Duke University Medical Center. Transferred were Elvis Davis, 41, the driver, who was in serious condition; his wife Wanda Davis, 41, who was in serious condition; his daughter Mariesha Davis, 14, who was in serious condition; and son Derrick Davis, 12, who was in fair condition.

Brandon was the 49th person to die from Floyd-related injuries.

Apartments Evacuated After Fires

Small fires were set 10 minutes apart in the stairwells of two apartment buildings in a Temple Hills complex yesterday afternoon, forcing residents to evacuate, a fire official said.

An elderly resident was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene of the garden-style apartments in the 3900 block of 23rd Parkway, said Mark Brady, a spokesman for the Prince George's County Fire and EMS Department.

Rescuers from Seat Pleasant Volunteer Fire Company No. 8 carried four children down ladders to safety from balconies at one of the buildings and placed their own breathing masks on the faces of five people in the other building to lead them down a smoky stairway, a spokesman for the fire company said.

Witnesses told investigators that they had seen juveniles flee the scene, Brady said, but no suspects had been identified. He said there was minor damage to the buildings, each of which has 12 apartments.

Firefighters responded to the first call 3:30 p.m. after some debris was set afire at the foot of the three-story stairwell, Brady said. A few minutes later, a similar fire was set in an apartment building about 200 feet away, he said.

Syphilis Cases Decline in Baltimore

The number of syphilis cases in Baltimore--which ranks No. 1 among U.S. cities in incidences of the disease--dropped significantly last year, according to a study released last week.

Baltimore posted a 31 percent reduction in cases of the sexually transmitted disease in 1998, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The number of cases stood at 456 in 1998, compared with 665 in 1997.

"We clearly have a serious problem, but we've made major strides against it," said Peter L. Beilenson, city health commissioner. "We had one of the biggest drops in the country last year, and we continue to go down even more."

Baltimore still tops the list, followed by Cook County, Ill., and Shelby County, Tenn. But Beilenson expects the decline to continue this year and predicts a total of about 350 cases for 1999.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Transportation comes up right on top of everything [as a concern], but it's something that people seem to have gotten very cynical about. I talked to one resident who said, 'We've tried to do something about it for years, but nothing has been done, so let's move onto something else.' "

-- Democrat George Lovelace, who is again challenging Virginia state Del. Jeannemarie Devolites (R-Fairfax), on Democratic efforts to make traffic gridlock a major issue in this fall's legislative races.