Contractor Fined in Red Panda Deaths

The National Zoo's former pesticide contractor has been fined more than $2,000 by the D.C. Department of Health for violations that contributed to the accidental poisoning last year of two red pandas.

An administrative law judge signed an order Monday fining Maryland-based Piedmont Pest Control and its owner $2,106 for several violations, including failure to obtain a D.C. pesticide operator's license and failure to notify the proper officials before fumigating. The pandas died in January 2003 after eating poison that was dropped in their yard while the contractor was burying poison-gas pellets in rat burrows.

Piedmont, licensed in Maryland, initially contested the fines but gave up its challenge last month after the District dropped efforts to fine the Smithsonian Institution $650 for similar violations. The Smithsonian, which operates the zoo, agreed to broader city oversight of toxic substances.

18th Snakehead in Potomac Waters

A 19-inch-long northern snakehead fish was caught Saturday in Dogue Creek near Mount Vernon, marking the 18th time that the Asian fish has been caught in the Potomac or its tributaries this year, Virginia authorities said yesterday.

The fish was caught in a boat slip by an angler using a spinner bait, said Gary Martel of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries. The snakehead was the eighth caught in Dogue Creek.

Breakdown on Red Line Causes Delays

Passengers on Metro's Red Line were delayed by as much as 40 minutes during yesterday's evening rush after a train broke down in the Farragut North Station about 5:40 p.m., a Metro spokesman said.

The breakdown made it necessary for trains to run on a single track through much of the downtown area. Most delays were in the direction of Glenmont, but backups caused residual delays in the direction of Shady Grove as well.


Workers Needed for Primary, Election Day

The D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics is looking for people to work the polls.

More workers are needed for precincts in Wards 1, 2 and 3 for the Sept. 14 primary and the Nov. 2 general election. Any city resident who is a registered voter is eligible to apply, and applicants do not have to be ward residents to fill the vacancies.

Interested applicants should sign up at the board's headquarters at 10 a.m. Saturday and will be trained that day. The recruits will be scheduled to work for three hours preparing the precincts on the day before the election and from 6:15 a.m. to 9 p.m. on the day of the election. Each election worker will be paid a $100 stipend.

For more information, call the elections board at 202-727-2525 or visit

Free Vaccinations at Children's Hospital

The D.C. Department of Health will provide free immunizations Saturday as part of Children's Hospital's 11th annual "It's Wise to Immunize" family day.

The event, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will include an insurance sign-up, children's activities, health information, food and music. It will take place at the Ambulatory Care Center building on the D.C. General campus, 1900 Massachusetts Ave. SE.

For more information, call Crissy Rivers at 202-884-2351.


Train Strikes Men on Tracks, Killing One

A freight train struck and killed one man and critically injured another last night as the men were drinking beer on a railroad track in Laurel, authorities said.

The names of the two men had not been released late last night, but Laurel police said it appeared that they were sitting on the tracks in the 100 block of Bowie Road. The driver of the southbound CSX engine called police just after the 10:30 p.m. accident, and officers responding to the scene found one man dead. The second man was flown to a hospital, said Jim Collins, a police spokesman.

Drowning Victim Is Silver Spring Man

Montgomery County police yesterday released the name of a 25-year-old man who drowned in the Potomac River on Sunday night.

Celso Enrique Mendez-Escalante of Silver Spring died while swimming in the river near Offutt Island, police said. Police discovered his body yesterday about 2 p.m.

Montgomery College Students Ride Free

Montgomery County officials will announce an agreement today with Montgomery College to allow nearly 50,000 students to use the county bus system without paying.

Starting Tuesday, community college students will be able to board any Ride On bus for free by showing their college identification cards.

County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) said the arrangement is designed to reduce traffic, pollution and demand for on-campus parking. Montgomery College President Charlene R. Nunley said the program will also help make college more affordable to lower-income students.

To cover the $550,000 cost of the service, the college is charging a $2-per-credit transportation fee to students.


Woman Killed When Car Rolls in Reverse

Fairfax County police said yesterday that an 87-year-old woman died in the Falls Church area after being run over by her car.

Virginia Douglas of Fairfax was attempting to get into her parked car at Fairmont and Strathmeade streets. Police said she had gotten out of her car to put her mail in a mailbox at the intersection and accidentally put the vehicle in reverse.

Police said she tried to stop the car from moving but was knocked to the ground by the door. They say Douglas received severe upper body injuries and later died at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

"I didn't think it would be this crazy. I thought I was the one lone nut."

-- Tony Martin, 24, on others waiting in line since before dawn for yesterday's opening of the District's first Krispy Kreme doughnut shop. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Karlyn Barker, David Fahrenthold, Arielle Levin-Becker, Tim Craig, Theola Labbe', David Snyder, Clarence Williams and Martin Weil and the Associated Press.