The sunny holiday weekend brought Marylanders outdoors but carried a note of tragedy as six people died in traffic accidents and three others apparently drowned.
One of the traffic deaths and one apparent drowning were reported in Ocean City -- both firsts of the year -- as the resort was packed with a near-record crowd celebrating Memorial Day weekend's official opening of the summer season.
Ocean City police said Allen Christopher Mrozinski, 22, of the 9000 block of Satyr Hill Road near Carney in Baltimore County, died after performing water rescue exercises during a tryout for the Beach Patrol about 2:40 p.m.
Sgt. Jay Hancock, a police spokesman, said Mr. Mrozinski did not come up after diving for a simulated drowning victim. Rescue workers attempted to revive him, but he was pronounced dead an hour later at Peninsula General Hospital in Salisbury.
George Chester Dowe, 27, of Dunkirk was killed at 3 a.m. yesterday when he lost his balance and fell into the path of an Ocean City transit bus. Police said Mr. Dowe had just
gotten off the bus at the corner of Third Street and Philadelphia Avenue when he fell backward.
Traffic investigators believed that Mr. Dowe stumbled because he had been drinking. Witnesses said the bus driver could not avoid hitting the man.
In Charles County, officers from the state Natural Resources Police were searching for George Castell of Falls Church, Va., who was believed to have drowned late Friday or early Saturday in the Potomac River.
Cpl. Ralph Parker, a police spokesman, said Mr. Castell and a friend had anchored their sailboat and retired for the night. The friend awakened early Saturday, "and Mr. Castell was nowhere to be found," Corporal Parker said.
Another drowning was reported in Montgomery County. The body of Tha Thou, 17, of Takoma Park, was pulled from Lake Need Wood near Rockville, where he and several friends had been swimming.
Swimmers and boaters "were out in huge numbers," Corporal Parker said, adding that "a lot of people aren't being very careful out there."
The worst traffic accident occurred in Easton, where two people died in a head-on crash just before 7 p.m. Saturday on Route 33, east of the Oak Creek Bridge. Police said an eastbound 1991 Ford van crossed the center line and struck a westbound 1988 Cadillac sedan.
The driver of the Cadillac, 54-year-old Roseann Stumps Owens of Whitman, died at the scene, and a passenger, John Edward Owens III, 57, also of Whitman, died later at Easton Memorial Hospital.
John Francis Woods II, 32, of Edgewater, the driver of the van, was flown to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he was listed in fair and stable condition yesterday. The cause of the accident was being investigated. Police said charges are pending.
A few hours after the Easton crash, a 17-year-old Montgomery County youth was killed and two of his friends were injured when their car spun off Bowie Mill Road in Olney and struck a utility pole.
Police said Kevin Arrowsmith of Derwood was speeding in his parents' station wagon when he lost control of the vehicle. He was declared dead at the scene.
Two passengers -- Timothy Logan and Victoria Lynn Popdan, both 17-year-olds from Olney -- were flown to Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.
At 3:50 a.m. yesterday, a 25-year-old man was killed when his motorcycle hit a tree along Gorman Road in Howard County.
According to county police, the motorcycle operator, Martin Joseph Novitsky of Glenwood, was not wearing a helmet. He died a short time later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Police said speed and alcohol were contributing factors.
Another fatal accident in Howard County occurred at 9 o'clock last night on Route 94 near Florence Road, police said. The victim, described only as a young male, was dead at the scene. No details were available.
Police agencies reported heavy traffic throughout the Eastern Shore yesterday but were not expecting the biggest tangles until today, when the beach crowds head home.