MARYLAND

Sex Assault on Beltway After 'Police' Stop

A woman was sexually assaulted yesterday by an apparent police impersonator after he pulled her over on the Capital Beltway in Largo during what she thought was a traffic stop, Prince George's County police said.

The woman was traveling on the outer loop near Landover Road about 2:30 p.m. when the assailant, who was driving a dark blue, four-door Ford Crown Victoria, flashed a red and blue light on the dashboard and sounded a siren, police said. The man then ordered the woman into the back seat of his vehicle, where he assaulted her. He released the woman after the attack.

Police described the man as black, about 20 years old, six feet tall and 200 pounds. He was wearing dark blue pants, dark boots and a blue, uniform-style jacket that did not have a badge, insignia or patches, authorities said. The man did not display a weapon, police said.

Cpl. Robert Clark, a county police spokesman, said no similar crimes had been reported. "There have been police impersonators in the past but none that we can recall that has been committed to this magnitude," he said.

Drivers uncertain about the identity of a purported officer should activate flasher lights, drive the posted speed limit to a well-lighted area and open the driver's-side window just a crack, Clark said.

Those still uncertain of the officer's identity after a conversation should request that a uniformed officer respond to the scene, he said.

Woman Killed by Car Near Leisure World

A speeding car driven by a 17-year-old jumped a curb on Georgia Avenue last night, killing a woman sitting in a bus stop shelter near the Leisure World complex in Silver Spring, Montgomery County police said.

Police did not immediately release the name of the victim or of the driver of the car that struck the woman shortly after 6 p.m. Investigators believe the driver was heading south at a high rate of speed when he lost control of the vehicle between International Drive and Rossmoor Boulevard.

The driver was not seriously injured, authorities said.

2 Children Critically Hurt in Landover Fire

Two children are in critical condition and their father is in serious condition after a fire in their Landover apartment from which maintenance workers rescued them.

Prince George's County fire officials said six maintenance workers heard screams and saw flames at the building in the 3300 block of Dodge Park Road about 1:30 p.m. They propped ladders against the building, crawled in through a window and made their way up the stairwell.

One man, identified as Christopher Hernandez, ran into the burning building and pulled the residents from their second-floor apartment, officials said. He handed one of the children to a worker waiting on a ladder, and another to someone waiting at the front door of the apartment building. He did the same for the father.

Capt. Chauncey Bowers, a spokesman for the county fire department, said the children, ages 1 and 3, were in critical condition and the father was in serious condition in Washington Hospital Center's burn unit. Bowers said the fire, which remains under investigation, caused about $60,000 in damage. He said 37 people were displaced from 11 units.

THE region

2 Hurt in D.C. During Montgomery Pursuit

Two people were injured late last night when a Montgomery County police cruiser that had been involved in a pursuit struck a vehicle in Northwest Washington, police said.

A witness said the police car was heading south on 13th Street NW when it ran a red light and struck a four-door Toyota Corolla traveling east on Kennedy Street NW. Both vehicles were heavily damaged.

The pursuit apparently started just before 11 p.m. with an attempted drunk-driving stop in the 11700 block of Old Columbia Pike, in the White Oak area of Montgomery County, said Capt. John Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the county police department.

The two people in the Toyota were taken to a local hospital. The police officer was not seriously injured, police said.

VIRGINIA

Inova Patient Halts Suit, Plans to Refile

A federal lawsuit filed against Inova Health System by a patient who accused the nonprofit hospital chain of violating its tax-exempt status by overcharging uninsured patients was voluntarily dismissed last week by the plaintiff's attorneys, who said yesterday that they plan to refile the case.

The suit was brought by Paul Shipman, an uninsured Inova Fairfax Hospital patient, who says he was charged significantly more for his medical care than were patients with insurance and then was harassed for payment. It is one of more than 49 such claims filed nationwide this summer against nonprofit hospitals and health care organizations.

Shipman's attorneys said yesterday that they made a "tactical" decision to withdraw the litigation but will refile in an effort to challenge what they say is Inova's "discriminatory pricing practice."

Inova, one of the largest nonprofit hospital chains in Virginia, has denounced the case as "baseless on both facts and the law."

Va. Baseball Authority to Stay in Business

With more than a half-million dollars still on hand, the Virginia Baseball Stadium Authority will not reduce its staff and will continue to operate indefinitely on undisclosed "unfinished business," authority spokesman Brian Hannigan said yesterday after a regularly scheduled meeting.

The authority also released a statement congratulating the District on winning Major League Baseball's nod to host the Expos, but added, "In the event that Major League Baseball may find it necessary to seek other options, the Authority will remain available to explore any possibilities."

Pr. William's School Enrollment Booming

Prince William County's enrollment is 66,093 students this year -- an increase of 2,994 students from the year before, and 372 students more than school planners projected.

The past five years have brought the largest increases in student enrollment in Prince William history, said David Beavers, planning analyst for the school system. The average growth over those five years is 4.65 percent.

"We feel this is going to be the next big wave of substance abuse in the country."

-- Steve Dnistrian, executive vice president of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, on the increasing abuse of prescription and over-the-counter drugs by middle-class suburban teenagers and young adults. -- Page A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Clarence Williams, Jamie Stockwell, Leef Smith, Michael Laris and Christina A. Samuels and the Associated Press.