Md. Firm Fined in Hotel Worker's Death

Va. Woman Fell After Being Trapped in Elevator

A Maryland company that manages the Hilton Springfield hotel has been fined $70,000 for willfully violating state occupational safety rules when a housekeeping employee became trapped in a service elevator and fell three floors to her death in February.

The hotel manager on duty, an employee of Coakley Williams Hotel Management of Greenbelt, failed to respond to the scene to make sure proper rescue procedures were followed, failed to call the elevator maintenance company or the fire department, failed to notify hotel security and failed to communicate with Santa Lucia Mendieta while she was trapped and panicking in the elevator, according to the citation issued by the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry. The company said it is contesting the state's finding.

Long & Foster Cited for Discrimination

Alexandria Panel Agrees With Gay Man's Case

In the first case of its kind, the Alexandria Human Rights Commission unanimously agreed that Long & Foster Real Estate Co. discriminated against a single gay man who wanted to buy a home in the city's Beverly Forest neighborhood.

Instead, the house went to a young married couple.

The commission cited the McLean-based real estate company for discriminating against Lawrence Cummings, 52, because of his marital status or his sexual orientation. The basis for its decision won't be made public for 30 days.

Long & Foster could be required to pay as much as $5,000 in fines to the city of Alexandria.

Public Funds to Keep AIDS Clinic Open

N.Va. Facility to Get Help From State, Localities

The state of Virginia and three local governments have agreed to provide up to $590,000 to keep the Whitman-Walker Clinic's Northern Virginia facility open until the end of next year, officials announced.

Whitman-Walker had announced in June that it would close its facility in Arlington, as well as its suburban Maryland clinic in Takoma Park, on Oct. 1 because of a financial crisis.

But under an agreement, Fairfax and Arlington counties, Alexandria and the Virginia Department of Health have pledged to cover 75 percent of the Northern Virginia facility's budget gap through December 2006. The Whitman-Walker Clinic will come up with the remaining 25 percent.

Abduction Trial Ends With Plea

Defendant Avoids Additional Prison Time

Darrell D. Rice, the Maryland man whom law enforcement authorities once pegged as the Route 29 Stalker, avoided a life sentence and any additional prison time by entering a plea to a reduced charge of wounding a female motorist near Manassas nearly 10 years ago.

However, Rice, 37, who must finish serving a federal prison sentence for an unrelated conviction of trying to abduct a bicyclist in Shenandoah National Park, continued to maintain his innocence.

Prince William County Circuit Court Judge William D. Hamblen accepted Rice's plea and sentenced him to 14 months in prison. The sentence will run simultaneously with his current federal term, meaning that he will serve no additional time and will be released in July 2007. Rice entered an Alford plea, meaning that he did not admit guilt but acknowledged that prosecutors had enough evidence for a conviction.

Blood Tests Urged for Loudoun Patients

Those Who Had Endoscopic Exams Contacted

Officials with Inova Loudoun Hospital have contacted 144 patients who underwent endoscopic exams last month and urged them to get tested for HIV and hepatitis, citing the hospital's failure to properly disinfect its equipment.

The problem was discovered July 14 during the review of a new piece of equipment used to clean scopes in the hospital's Endoscopy Suite, officials said. Although the scopes were manually scrubbed, rinsed with alcohol and dried, the hospital said staff found that the cleaning equipment was improperly programmed to immerse the scopes in disinfectant for one minute instead of the manufacturer's recommended five minutes.

Hospital officials characterized the risk to patients who were treated during a 10-day period beginning July 5 as "remote."

Flag Farewell In Ashburn, Boy Scout official Lou Noon retires a U.S. flag, ending a controversy over whether it flew at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.