Wolf Seeks Restrictions on Painkiller

Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) has asked the Department of Health and Human Services to restrict prescriptions of the painkiller OxyContin to people with severe pain, saying the drug too often has fallen into abusers' hands and needs to be monitored more closely.

Wolf, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Commerce, Justice and State departments and related agencies, called on HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson to warn the public about the dangers of abusing OxyContin, which has been linked to hundreds of deaths. Wolf noted a series of robberies in Northern Virginia that targeted the drug, recent local convictions of people involved in a massive distribution ring and the devastation the drug has brought to communities in Appalachia as his reasons for urging more caution.

"The drug should not be marketed to treat moderate pain," Wolf wrote the agency. "Too many people have died, too many families have suffered and too many communities have been devastated by the improper use of this drug."

Man Gets Nine Years in Speedboat Death

A Richmond man who killed a fisherman by running over him with a speedboat has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Christopher Andrew Holloway, 21, pleaded guilty last week to involuntary manslaughter and felony hit-and-run. A Henrico County judge sentenced him to 15 years in prison, with six suspended, for what the judge called the "senseless" death of Gerald Holliday, 43.

Holliday was run over by Holloway's 454-horsepower, fiberglass-hulled cruiser Sept. 28 as he was fishing from his bass boat, which was anchored in the James River near the Varina-Enon bridge. Holloway said he had been drinking vodka and beer that day.

Rivers Reopened for Shellfish Harvesting

State health officials have reopened stretches of the James and Rappahannock rivers to shellfish harvesting. The rivers were closed in February because of concerns about bacterial and viral pollutants, but tests have shown that the reopened sections meet the appropriate safety standards.

The James has been reopened from Hog Island in Surry County downstream to the Monitor-Merrimac Memorial Bridge-Tunnel; the Rappahannock has been reopened from Neals Point 12 miles downstream to Monaskon, but remains closed from the Tappahannock Bridge to Neals Point.

Colonial Williamsburg Tourism Drops

Colonial Williamsburg officials say a decline in ticket sales reflects the difficult tourism climate caused by the October sniper shootings, last year's feeble economy and travel fears lingering from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Ticket sales last year fell to the lowest level in four decades, dropping 10 percent to 840,000, from 931,000 in 2001. The number of visitors is down 15 percent this year, officials said.

Williamsburg Foundation officials this year began cost-cutting measures, including layoffs and the closing of Carter's Grove plantation.

As visitor numbers declined, the number of donors making annual contributions to Colonial Williamsburg campaigns topped 100,000 for the first time, with 103,000 donors contributing $11.6 million last year to the Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg, the foundation's biggest fundraising effort. Contributions in 2001 totaled $10.7 million.

Parents Seek Ban on Elie Wiesel Memoir

The parents of a Lynchburg middle school student want school officials to restrict access to Nobel Peace Prize-winner Elie Wiesel's memoir of his experiences in a Nazi concentration camp.

Bob and Angela Hefner, whose 12-year-old daughter was assigned to read Wiesel's "Night" for her advanced English class, have complained that the book is too graphic and disturbing for seventh-graders and are asking that it be restricted to high school classes.

"Night" is part of the curriculum at two other middle schools in the city and has not been challenged before, said Susan White, a school administrator. A panel will be convened to study the book.


Apartment Fire Displaces Residents

Nearly two dozen residents of a Montgomery County apartment building were displaced from their homes last night, when a fire in one unit damaged the rest of the building.

An off-duty Montgomery County police officer working as a security guard at the Pepper Tree Farm Apartments in Aspen Hill noticed the flames at 5:45 p.m. A resident had reported the smell of smoke, said Montgomery County Fire Department spokesman Pete Piringer.

The blaze was well underway in a third-story apartment at 14100 Weeping Willow Dr. when firefighters arrived. The 16 apartments in that building were evacuated without incident or injury, and it took firefighters about 20 minutes to get the flames under control.

The flames damaged only the one apartment, but more than half of the 16 units in the building had smoke or water damage and lost utilities because of the blaze. The fire caused about $150,000 in damage, and firefighters said it was accidental, though an investigation was underway last night, Piringer said.

Man Charged in Pr. George's Shooting

An arrest has been made in the March 2 shooting death of a Prince George's County man in Silver Spring.

Osvaldo Miguel Lemus-Berrios, 25, of no known address, has been charged in a warrant with first-degree murder in the death of Mynor Joel Palma, 20, of the 8100 block of 15th Avenue in Hyattsville. Montgomery County Police said Lemus-Berrios was arrested without incident Friday in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he remains pending an extradition hearing.

Police said Palma and a friend were riding in a car the evening of March 2 when they realized they were being followed. They stopped their car in the 8700 block of Garland Avenue in the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring, police said. Palma got out of the vehicle and several shots were fired. He was pronounced dead at the scene.


Driver Killed in Crash on I-295

A Southeast man died early yesterday after he apparently lost control of his vehicle on Interstate 295 near 42nd Street NE, hit a curb and flipped his 1994 Chevrolet Blazer.

Robert Johnson, 38, of the 300 block of K Street, was ejected from the vehicle and taken to Prince George's County Hospital, where he died. Two female passengers received non-life-threatening injuries, D.C. police said.

"The poor magnolias. They're going to freeze their buds off."

-- Michele Kelley, out walking her Labrador in Silver Spring during yesterday's un-springlike snow burst. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Josh White, Petula Dvorak and Gene Fynes and the Associated Press.