One Dead, Two Hurt in Temple Hills Crash

One man was killed and two other people were hospitalized last night after a two-car crash in the Temple Hills area, Prince George's County authorities said.

The driver of a Mazda lost control of his vehicle and crossed the double yellow line while driving west near the 5300 block of Beech Road about 10 p.m., said Cpl. Kim Brown, a county police spokeswoman. The Mazda spun out of control and was struck broadside by a Kia SUV traveling east.

The driver of the Mazda, whose identity was not released by police, was later pronounced dead. The driver and a passenger in the Kia were taken to a hospital with serious injuries, Brown said.

Police do not believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

Police Search for Silver Spring Girl, 12

Montgomery County police are looking for a 12-year-old Silver Spring girl who may have run away from home.

Loren Desiree Astwood, a student at Briggs Chaney Middle School in Silver Spring, was last seen Monday boarding a school bus at the end of the school day.

She is black, 5 feet 5 inches tall, weighs 160 pounds, and has black hair and dark brown eyes. She left home wearing a blue jean-material jacket, blue jeans and black shoes. She was carrying a black backpack with a Tweety Bird image.

Anyone with information can call police at 240-773-5400.

14 Catch Pneumonia at Frederick School

Thirteen children and an adult have caught viral pneumonia over the past month at a Frederick County elementary school, a spokeswoman for the public school system said yesterday.

Since the outbreak at Wolfsville Elementary School last month, two of the sick students have regained their health and returned to classes.

Spokeswoman Marita S. Loose said the virus was passed by personal contact rather than by any contamination of the school building.

Because of a shifting of staff workdays, Wolfsville students will have today and tomorrow off. Loose said the school's staff members would have the option of working from home.

Parents and staff members seeking more information can call the Frederick County Health Department at 301-631-3342.

30 Are Honored for Work in Arson Probe

For nearly two years, a task force of arson investigators and police officers tracked a serial arsonist through the Washington area. Now some members of that group are being honored.

Prince George's County Fire Chief Lawrence H. Sedgwick Jr. issued letters of commendation or ceremonial ribbons yesterday to 30 men and women as well as two arson investigation dogs involved in the case.

He also presented unit citations to the Prince George's police and fire departments as well as the Baltimore field office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Thomas Sweatt of the District was arrested in April and eventually took responsibility for 45 fires as part of a guilty plea. He is serving a sentence of life plus 136 years in prison.

At yesterday's ceremony, some members of the task force discussed the investigation, which began in March 2003 in the District and nearby Prince George's suburbs and ultimately included portions of Northern Virginia and Montgomery County. They said Sweatt supplied the evidence that led investigators to him -- a pair of dress-blue Marine Corps slacks.

O'Malley Urges Vaccine Production Study

Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley (D) asked state and local leaders yesterday to study the feasibility of mass-producing flu vaccine, saying Baltimore and the surrounding region are well positioned to address the nation's heightened vulnerability.

In a letter to state officials, O'Malley said the city was willing to fund half of a $300,000 to $400,000 study "to determine whether vaccine manufacturing is an appropriate target of opportunity for us to pursue as a region."

He suggested that the region has "unparalleled" strengths in Johns Hopkins University medical institutions and other biomedical facilities.

O'Malley, a candidate for governor next year, said his idea was prompted by reports that the federal government is "woefully underprepared" for an outbreak of pandemic flu.


Humane Society Wants Teacher Barred

The Humane Society of the United States is urging the Loudoun County public school system to suspend an elementary school teacher who faces a felony animal cruelty charge in his home town in West Virginia.

In a letter sent to the school system's superintendent and the chairman of its school board last week, a Humane Society official wrote that Larry K. Messner, 52, a fifth-grade teacher at Pinebrook Elementary School in Aldie, should be barred from the classroom and allowed to return "only if he is found not guilty of this violent and serious crime."

A spokesman for the school system said Messner has been employed with Loudoun schools since 2000. He said school officials have researched the case but have not suspended Messner because he has not been convicted of a crime.

According to an account in the Journal in Martinsburg, W.Va., a neighbor accused Messner of pouring an unknown substance on the face and head of her dog in July. She said the dog was badly burned. Messner was arraigned last week and released on $10,000 bail. He has denied the accusation.

Discussion to Focus on Jones Point Park

The public can learn more about the efforts to study wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas around Jones Point Park during an open house from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Radisson Hotel, 901 N. Fairfax St. in Alexandria.

Parks employees will discuss their environmental assessment of the park, which can be viewed online at

The National Park Service recently began an environmental study of Jones Point, a 64-acre park along the Potomac River along the construction area for the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

The park is adjacent to wetlands, has small woodlands that serve as bird habitats and contains archaeological sites that include Indian campsites, a 19th-century rope-making shop and a World War II shipbuilding complex.

"I think that laws have to be reasonable. And I do believe that one glass of wine should certainly not an arrest make."

-- D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz, talking about the city's zero-tolerance policy for drinking and driving. -- B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Annie Gowen, Rosalind S. Helderman, Nelson Hernandez, Ernesto Londono, Clarence Williams and John Wagner and the Associated Press.