News from around the Baltimore region

April 13, 2005


800-pound man puts firefighters to the test

A Dundalk man weighing 800 pounds called for medical assistance yesterday, authorities said, forcing firefighters to call in a tactical rescue team, remove two doors, request a sling from the National Aquarium and transport him to the hospital on the wide flatbed of a county utility truck.

Jessie Keitz, the man's sister, said yesterday that her brother, John Keitz, 38, has been immobile for about four years. She said her brother, who has asthma, among other medical problems, had a doctor's appointment yesterday for a weight-related medical procedure, and that is why the family called for help.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's Maryland section about a lawsuit filed by the relatives of two Baltimore County men killed Oct. 22 in an accident on Interstate 70 gave an incorrect occupation for one of the victims. Charles R. Wilhelm Jr. was a retired insurance claims department manager.
An article in Wednesday's editions about the FBI's investigation of a fatal shooting by city police incorrectly characterized the source of the photos of the deceased. The pictures were taken by a funeral home.
The Sun regrets the errors.

John Keitz sleeps in a hospital bed in the living room and has to have his things - such as a computer, game system and portable stove - brought to him, his sister said. She said that her brother weighs at least 800 pounds and has been trying to lose weight so that he can walk again.

Baltimore County fire officials said they have been called to the Keitz home about five times in three years, but in the past medics were often able to treat the man in his home.

"It's a tedious and time-consuming ordeal every time we do this," said Capt. Thomas Kimbel. "It used to be easier when he lived in his old house in Essex - with glass sliding doors."

The call for help came to fire dispatchers at 1:45 p.m. When crews arrived at the rowhouse in the 8400 block of Kavanaugh Road, they realized they would need help to transport Keitz, said Firefighter Tim Robinson.

While police closed off the street, firefighters removed the screen door and front door and eased Keitz out the opening and onto the truck bed, using a combination of slings and wooden planks. Almost three hours after the initial call, about 4:20 p.m., fire crews sent him to Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center. Fire Department spokeswoman Elise Armacost said that about 20 firefighters responded to the call.

Jessie Keitz said neighbors gathered to watch.

"It was like a three-ring circus," she said, adding that the incident was embarrassing for the family. "It's really hard."

- Anica Butler and William Wan


2 fatal shootings yesterday may be linked to drugs

Two men were shot and killed early yesterday in separate homicides in West Baltimore, and both shootings appear to be drug-related, city police said.

At 12:09 a.m., police responded to a report of shots fired in the 500 block of McMechen St. and found Sonti Hayes lying outside. Hayes, 30, of the 700 block of Appleton St., had been shot in the head and lower right leg, said homicide Detective Dave Peckoo. Two vials of cocaine were found next to his body. Hayes was pronounced dead six hours later at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center, said Officer Nicole Monroe, a police spokeswoman.

About 12:40 a.m., a 40-year-old man was shot in the chest after a dispute over money in the back yard of a home in the 2800 block of Presbury St., said homicide Detective Vernon Parker.

The man, Steven Ray Kaham, of the 1800 block of Ashburton St., had a bag of crack cocaine in his hand, Monroe said. He was pronounced dead at Shock Trauma at 1:32 a.m.

- Ryan Davis and Richard Irwin


Little Magothy reopens after wastewater spill

Health officials reopened the Little Magothy River in this Anne Arundel County community yesterday, one week after a water-main break dumped more than 10,000 gallons of wastewater into the river.

Water samples taken by the county's Health Department showed that the water meets state and federal standards.

The county had posted signs to caution residents against entering the contaminated waterway.

- Phillip McGowan


FBI investigating fatal police shooting

The FBI is investigating the Baltimore Police Department's fatal shooting this month of a driver whom officers started chasing because they believed he was speeding.

The pursuit occurred despite a city police policy that prohibits officers from getting into car chases with suspects unless there are "exigent circumstances," said police spokesman Matt Jablow.

Police shot Lornell Antonio Wilkins, 31, on April 1 after a five-mile pursuit that led into the 2400 block of Greenmount Ave., according to a police report.

"I have a lot of questions and concerns," said Joe Coe, Wilkins' half-brother. "I am concerned about the use of excessive force to de-escalate a situation that the police initially recognized as a traffic violation."

Officers have said they ended the chase by boxing in Wilkins' sport utility vehicle with their cars. They have said Wilkins tried to flee, struck a police cruiser and put officers in danger.

Coe said he filed a complaint yesterday with the FBI. Agency spokesman Barry Maddox confirmed that the FBI is investigating the shooting but declined to provide details.

He said an agent typically investigates a case and reports the findings to the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore. Those agencies decide whether to prosecute.

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