THE REGION

Airports, Stations Calm for Christmas

After a week with surprisingly few snafus amid the holiday rush, the region's airports and train stations were relatively calm yesterday as last-minute travelers headed home for Christmas.

Officials at the area's three airports and Union Station said that there were few lines in the terminals and that they were fielding a normal number of complaints from passengers.

"It's not nearly as bad as we anticipated," said a spokesman at Reagan National Airport. "It's pretty smooth. We're not having any problems." Officials had been worried about possible delays with the coincidence of the holiday and an increased concern about terrorism as the end of the 1900s approaches. But they said the agreeable weather in Washington and across the country has kept most flights on schedule.

Free Rides Through the Holidays

The Washington Regional Alcohol Program is offering free cab rides to anyone celebrating the holidays who calls 1-800-200-TAXI between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. The program will run until Jan. 2 and is offered in the District, and in Montgomery, Prince George's, Arlington, Fairfax, eastern Loudoun and Prince William counties.

THE DISTRICT

Officers Get the Gift of Advancement

Christmas Eve brought promotion announcements for 51 D.C. police officers from Chief Charles H. Ramsey.

Eleven lieutenants will become captains, 25 sergeants will become lieutenants and 15 officers will be sergeants, effective Jan. 10, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman.

Ramsey said the promotions will help put captains and lieutenants in all seven districts and spread those ranking officers more evenly throughout the 83 patrol service areas.

More Surgery for NW Shooting Victim

Kenneth "Skip" Ames, 44, a Georgetown University employee who police said was shot by a cabdriver on Wednesday after a minor traffic accident, underwent a second round of surgery yesterday and remained in critical condition, authorities said.

Ames, a supervisor in the university's information services, was shot three times in the chest and abdomen on campus. The cabdriver fled, and police are searching for a black and orange Chevrolet Caprice station wagon with possible front-end damage.

Police said Ames and the cabdriver were involved in a minor accident at 37th and O streets NW when the taxi driver pulled a gun. Ames is being treated at Georgetown University Hospital.

VIRGINIA

Pr. William Man Arrested in Shooting

A Prince William County man was arrested near Springfield Thursday night after he accidentally fired a gun that had been stolen that day and seriously injured an acquaintance, Fairfax County police said.

A 20-year-old Stafford County man and three others were driving in the Springfield area when the shooting occurred, police said. Juan Carlos Ballesteros, 23, of the 15000 block of Gatehouse Terrace, was putting the .357 magnum revolver back in its holster when it fired, police spokeswoman Julie Hersey said. The bullet went through the driver's seat, hitting the Stafford County man in the back and severing his spine, she said.

The men drove to the nearby Concord Shopping Center, and authorities were called. As medical personnel tended to the wounded man, police officers found the gun a short distance from the car, Hersey said.

The wounded man, who was not identified by police, was in stable condition at Inova Fairfax Hospital, Hersey said. Ballesteros was charged with reckless discharge of a firearm and held in lieu of $10,000 bond.

Gilmore Asked to Stay Killer's Execution

The president of a conservative law center asked Gov. James S. Gilmore III (R) to grant clemency to a man who is to be executed next month for a murder he committed when he was 17.

In a letter to Gilmore, Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead said imposing the death sentence on Steve Edward Roach when he was a juvenile was cruel and unusual punishment. Whitehead wrote that many nations have rejected capital punishment as an appropriate punishment for juveniles, the institute said in a statement issued yesterday.

"Perhaps the most disturbing circumstance surrounding Roach's case is that at the time of his trial and sentencing, no civil authority or court had made any determination that he was mature enough to understand the charges against him," Whitehead wrote.

Roach robbed and murdered Mary Ann Hughes, 70, in Stanardsville in 1993. His execution is set for Jan. 13.

MARYLAND

Identity of Dead Bicyclist Sought

Prince George's County police are trying to learn the identity of a bicyclist who was struck by two vehicles and killed in Landover early yesterday.

The accident happened about 2:10 a.m. at Martin Luther King Highway and Flagstaff Street. The man was riding east in the westbound lanes of King Highway, wearing dark clothing on a bike with no lights, police said.

He was struck in the intersection by a 37-year-old Landover woman who was turning her Ford Taurus left from Flagstaff onto King Highway headed east. The man was thrown from his bike and landed in the westbound lanes, where he was run over by a tractor-trailer driven by a 40-year-old Cheverly man.

His body was dragged for about 50 feet before the truck managed to stop, and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The female driver left the scene, not realizing at first that she had hit someone, but later returned, police said. No one has been charged in the incident, and police said they are still investigating.

Police described the bicyclist as a black man about 45 to 50 years old, about 5-foot-8 and weighing 170 pounds, with short black and gray hair, a slight mustache and a goatee. He was wearing a brown corduroy coat, dark blue Guess jeans, white tennis shoes and a black stocking cap. He was riding a purple LeGrand Free Spirit bike.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"This is my first experience with calling an ambulance and I have to say, I might as well have been in a Third World country on a back road. As a physician, as a [former] medical director in charge of 2,000 patients . . . and as a citizen, I am appalled."

-- Larry Siegel, a Washington physician, on the half-hour delay he said ensued after his 911 call for an ambulance to pick up a man who had suffered a seizure and stopped breathing.