Stranded Cat Leaps to River and Safety

A cat trapped under a bridge for at least a day took a leap of about 50 feet into the Patuxent River last night and was pulled from the water -- hungry but apparently unharmed.

The small calico cat, black with gray stripes, was seen Tuesday on a concrete pylon 10 feet below the road surface of the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge, said Wayne Johnson, chief of the Bay District Volunteer Fire Department in St. Mary's County. A number of people called the fire department about the cat, and volunteers started planning their rescue attempt yesterday morning.

The plan was to shut the northbound lane of Route 4 on the busy bridge, which links St. Mary's and Calvert counties, and lower a firefighter to the pylon where the cat was marooned. The lane was closed just before 7:30 p.m., but as the firefighter started toward the feline, it jumped. A rescue boat from the Solomons volunteer fire department was a few feet away from where the cat landed, and it was scooped out of the water moments later.

James Wood, a St. Mary's County animal warden, said he thought the cat had been tossed out of a car as it crossed the bridge. He said it's the fourth cat that has been tossed from a car in the county in two weeks.

Wood said the cat would be taken to the Tri-County Animal Shelter in Charles County to be put up for adoption.

Firefighters Keep Fuel From Creek

The collision of a moving truck and a pickup truck caused nearly 60 gallons of fuel to leak near Cabin John Creek yesterday afternoon. But firefighters blocked storm drains to prevent the gasoline from reaching the stream.

Capt. Oscar Garcia of the Montgomery County fire department said the trucks collided about 12:45 p.m. behind the Cabin John Shopping Center. No one was injured, but the pickup smashed into the larger truck's fuel tanks.


Record for Ridership on the Rails

Metro ridership hit new heights last month, when the rail line carried more passengers than in any other month in its 29-year history, according to agency officials.

More than 18.5 million passengers rode Metro in June, with an average of about 735,000 passengers each weekday. Chief Executive Richard A. White said pleasant weather and passengers riding the train to Nationals games were behind the high numbers.

June's numbers beat the record set in April, when just under 18 million riders boarded trains. Metro officials said the fiscal year that ended June 30 was the ninth straight year of ridership growth.


Canine Center Operator Sentenced

A Prince William County man who operated a wolf-hybrid rescue center was sentenced to more than four years in prison for cruelty to two dozen animals.

Robert Artois, 56, sought leniency before his sentencing Tuesday. But General District Court Judge Peter Steketee and prosecutors said Artois' previous record and the crime demanded prison time. Artois was on probation for having sex with a boy in 2002.

Artois was sentenced to four years and three months in prison.

Artois opened Black Wolf Rescue several years ago at a rented house in Triangle. He operated a wolf-dog hybrid rescue center and raised and sold German shepherds. Based on neighbors' complaints, a search of the property April 18 found dogs suffering from malnutrition, parasites and mange, many in cages caked with feces.

All the dogs were confiscated by the county. About a dozen wolf-dog hybrids were euthanized because licensed shelters for the potentially dangerous animals could not be found to take them.

Crashes Kill Two in Fairfax County

Two people were killed in separate car crashes in Fairfax County yesterday.

The first occurred on Blake Lane in the Fairfax area, about 10:15 a.m. Police said a sedan heading north on Blake near Five Oaks Road was struck by a garbage recycling truck. A 22-year-old woman riding in the sedan was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Her name was not released pending notification of family. Neither the driver of the car nor the truck's driver was seriously hurt.

The second collision happened about 2:15 p.m. on Fairfax County Parkway in Reston. A pickup driving south crossed the median near New Dominion Parkway and struck a sedan in the northbound lanes, police said. The 28-year-old driver of the truck was pronounced dead at the scene. His name was not released pending notification of his family. The driver and passenger of the sedan were taken by helicopter to a hospital.


Police Looking for New Officers

The D.C. police department hopes to recruit new officers Saturday at a career expo in Southwest Washington.

People interested in joining the force can meet with recruiters, complete application forms and take the written police test at the expo. Officials said they are looking for entry-level candidates as well as experienced officers from other departments. Applicants are required to have completed at least 60 hours of college credits.

The expo runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Maurice T. Turner Jr. Institute of Police Science, 4665 Blue Plains Dr. SW. More details are available on the department's Web site,

"I know I'm the villain. But if they're saying I'm cruel to animals, that's just not right. . . . They're dear cats. I love them."

-- Ruth Knueven, who faces charges stemming from her alleged failure to care and properly dispose of her pets. Authorities removed 306 cats -- 87 of them dead -- from her Fairfax County home. -- A1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Tom Jackman and Jonathan Abel and the Associated Press.

A cat that had been stuck under a bridge between St. Mary's and Calvert counties swims for help after leaping into the Patuxent River.