Crews Prepare to Assist With Hurricane

Rescue crews from Montgomery County were activated yesterday for a possible deployment to the gulf region to help with damage expected from Hurricane Katrina.

A 100-member unit was put on alert, and up to 75 could be deployed once federal officials give the order, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue spokesman Pete Piringer said.

"We are getting all our gear ready, and we are anticipating deploying to the gulf states," Piringer said.

Crews from Dominion Virginia Power were already in the region, ready to help restore power lines when the storm moves ashore. A group from Pepco was also standing by if a second wave of assistance is needed, spokeswoman Mary-Beth Hutchinson told WTOP radio.

Two Red Cross vehicles from the Washington region were also deployed yesterday to Mississippi and Louisiana.

"They'll be able to get food and clothing items out of these emergency response vehicles," said Red Cross spokesman Cameron Ballantyne. "These are our mass-care units that can serve hundreds of people in a matter of hours."


Search for Frederick Diver Continues

The U.S. Coast Guard continues to search for a Frederick County man lost while scuba diving in the waters off Ocracoke Island, N.C.

Richard Pryor, 34, of New Market was diving with his father, Wade, and eight others Saturday morning when he failed to resurface with the group. Pryor, who works for Earth Beautiful Inc., his family's Damascus-based landscaping business, was on a charter expedition to explore a shipwreck in 90 feet of water about 18 miles east of Ocracoke Island. He was last seen by the members of his party about 11 a.m., when he had about 45 minutes left in his oxygen tanks, said Coast Guard spokesman Christopher Evanson.

When Pryor failed to surface, the owners of the charter company plunged into the Atlantic to search but found no sign of him. They then radioed the Coast Guard, which began a search "within a half-hour," said Wade Pryor, keeping vigil with his wife at his New Market home, where his son also lives.

As of yesterday afternoon, a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter, a Coast Guard helicopter, rescue boats and local volunteers had failed to find Pryor, a bodybuilder who has been diving since he was in his teens. Searchers planned to continue through last night.

Wade Pryor, 52, said there were no areas that could have trapped his son in the shipwreck, the collapsed remains of a transport boat torpedoed by the Germans during World War II. "Richard dove this wreck just on July 9. We dive about 50 times a year up and down the East Coast. We had new equipment. We did everything by the numbers. Something must have gone awry."

An experienced diver himself, Wade Pryor said that his son may have had a health crisis or strayed too far and got lost. "Maybe he followed some interesting sea life," Pryor said. "Maybe he was following something really beautiful, and now he's adrift at sea."

Crash Injures 3, Leads to Second Accident

A Metrobus skidded into the aftermath of a single-car crash in Takoma Park early yesterday, hitting another car and closing southbound New Hampshire Avenue for five hours. Three passengers in the car involved in the first crash, a stolen Honda Accord, were injured.

According to a statement released by the Takoma Park Police Department, the Honda was speeding southbound on New Hampshire Avenue about 3 a.m. when it struck the retaining wire on a utility pole and the driver lost control. The car flattened a highway sign, jumped the median, struck a parked car and plowed into two trees before coming to a stop in a residential front yard.

Minutes later, the Metrobus, which carried no passengers, skidded on the fallen road sign and hit a vehicle that had stopped when it reached the accident scene.

The 20-year-old driver of the Honda, which was reported stolen in Prince George's County in July, was hospitalized in satisfactory condition. Two passengers in the stolen car reported to hospitals on their own. There were no injuries to occupants of the bus or the vehicle it struck.

Charges are pending in the first crash.

Nigerian Official's Md. Home Searched

The government confirmed Saturday that the U.S. home of Nigeria's vice president had been searched as part of a federal investigation, which news reports have linked to a Louisiana congressman.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to confirm when the search occurred, referring questions to the Justice Department. A Justice spokesman declined to comment.

The Times-Picayune of New Orleans first reported that agents had searched the Potomac home of Vice President Atiku Abubakar on Aug. 3. On the same day, FBI agents searched the Washington and New Orleans homes of Rep. William J. Jefferson, an eight-term Democrat.

The searches of Jefferson's homes came amid questions about his financial dealings with a high-tech startup company. The Times-Picayune has reported that investigators were looking into Jefferson's dealings with Abubakar and the vice president of Ghana.

Jefferson's spokeswoman, Melanie Roussell, said Saturday that the congressman had no comment. Abubakar could not be reached for comment.


1 Dead and 1 Injured in NE Stabbing

One man was killed and another was critically injured when they were stabbed during an argument in Northeast Washington early yesterday, police said.

Investigators are searching for a suspect, said police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile.

The altercation began around 1 a.m. in the 4800 block of Fort Totten Drive Northeast, then spilled into the 5000 block, at which point the suspect stabbed the men before fleeing.

One of the victims ran into an apartment building in the 4800 block and was later taken by emergency personnel to a hospital. Gentile declined to identify the hospital because the victim is a possible witness.

The other man showed no signs of life when investigators found him on the street. He was later pronounced dead. Police have not released his name.

"I don't think there's anything in Islam that precludes women from looking attractive or professional. No one says you have to look like a bag lady. Actually, the Prophet [Muhammad] was known for wearing perfume, being clean and very well dressed."

-- Sarah Ansari, co-owner of a San Diego-based company that sells modest clothing, speaking about fashion for Muslims. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Paul Schwartzman and Elizabeth Williamson and the Associated Press.