MARYLAND

After Crash, Motorist Killed in Fall

A motorist who survived a car accident on Interstate 97 in Anne Arundel County on Thursday night died when he fled his car and apparently fell off the highway overpass, police said yesterday.

James Douglas Watson, 31, of Baltimore County, was seen driving fast on northbound I-97 about 9 p.m. just before his 1997 Chevrolet Cavalier struck a guardrail near Route 32 and flipped over. Witnesses told state police that they saw the driver leave the badly damaged car and run across the highway toward the southbound lanes.

However, the highway at that point passes over Route 32, and the northbound and southbound lanes are separated by 40 feet of open space. Some police speculate Watson did not know this.

Witnesses said he leaped over the concrete barrier and fell between the lanes about 40 feet onto Route 32, where he died instantly, police said.

State police said that they don't know why Watson fled the car and that they are still investigating his death.

Woman Killed on Washington State Hike

A 62-year-old Silver Spring woman was killed while hiking in Washington state Wednesday after strong winds sent a tree's limb crashing on top of her.

Washington state officials identified the woman as Marian Granger Vincent and said she had been visiting her sister for a hiking trip in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. About 9 a.m. Wednesday, officials said, the women were hiking along the Rattlesnake Trail when fierce winds caused a fir tree to fall and dropped a heavy limb on top of the woman.

John Urquhart, a King County sheriff's spokesman, said Vincent was killed instantly. Her sister, whom Urquhart declined to identify by name, ran to the trail's head to call officials.

Since January, Vincent had been a nurse supervisor at The Washington Post's College Park plant, a company official said.

VIRGINIA

Undiagnosed Diabetes Cited in Death

The Northern Virginia Mental Health Institute failed to diagnose diabetes in a patient allowed to binge on junk food in the months before he died, a state agency concluded.

The state mental hospital mismanaged emergency care for Skander Najar and failed to "control his dangerous eating habits," which caused his blood sugar levels to worsen and led to pancreatic problems that killed him, the state Department for Rights of Virginians With Disabilities said.

The findings echoed a confidential internal investigation on the 1998 death by the Falls Church hospital. The hospital concluded that Najar's death was caused by human error, and seven staff members, including his psychiatrist and the on-call physician, resigned in the face of dismissal.

Najar, 26, had symptoms for two days before his death, including blurred vision, dizziness, vomiting and increasing lethargy, according to records obtained by the Associated Press.

The lack of control over Najar's diet in allowing him to eat in a cafeteria was exacerbated by trips to convenience stores, fast-food restaurants and grocery stores as part of the institute's plan to reintegrate him into society, the agency said.

Erroneous Voter ID Warnings Continue

Mailings telling voters that they need to bring identification to the polls Tuesday continued to arrive in Fairfax County yesterday from the campaign of state Sen. Jane H. Woods (R) despite a court ruling dropping the requirement.

Democratic opponent Leslie L. Byrne has accused Woods of seeking to suppress voter turnout with the notice, which appeared on three campaign mailings this week saying, "State law requires Fairfax County voters to bring an ID to vote."

A judge issued an injunction Oct. 19 against the ID requirement after it was challenged by Democratic Party officials, who called the rule unfair and reminiscent of obstacles such as poll taxes once used to keep African Americans from voting. Voters need no identification to vote Tuesday.

Woods's campaign manager, Justin Brasell, said that the mailings were printed before the court ruling and that it would have been too expensive and time consuming to reprint the three mailings with the notice. "We're not going to stop our whole mail plan because Leslie Byrne doesn't like it," he said.

THE DISTRICT

Human Services Passes Y2K Simulation

D.C. Department of Human Services administrators said yesterday that an all-day series of simulated exercises to test the agency's readiness for year 2000 computer problems went "extremely well."

Jearline F. Williams said that since last year, agency officials have been testing equipment, developing contingency plans and storing supplies in case if the Y2K computer glitch.

The agency is charged with providing a variety of social service needs, including welfare benefits and services for citizens who are mentally retarded or have other developmental disabilities.

Yesterday, officials simulated how they would respond if area banking systems failed and people were unable to get cash benefits or food stamps; if there was a power failure at the city's detention facility for juvenile offenders; and if civil unrest broke out in a 20-block radius where there were several child care providers.

Park Service, Mother to Discuss Land

A 10-year-old's playground in far Northeast is safe from the National Park Service for a few more days, according to a spokesman for the agency.

Spokesman Earle Kittleman said Park Service Director Robert Stanton agreed to meet with Wanda Aikens, the child's mother, to discuss the dispute between her and the Park Service over the ownership and use of a piece of land in the 4100 block of Gault Place NE that is now Olivia Cummings's play area.

The Park Service had attempted to take down a fence and play set next to Aikens's home this week to reclaim the property but stopped when she objected.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "You got those copycat people, that's what the

townspeople are afraid of." -- Linda Prior, a resident of Burkittsville, Md., on outsiders who have visited the town following the release of "The Blair Witch Project," a horror movie that

was filmed there.