FORESTVILLE -- A seven-car, chain-reaction crash yesterday on the Capital Beltway killed at least two people and injured 15, including two police officers, authorities said.
It started at about 7 p.m. when a Prince George's County police officer spotted a speeding motorcycle and positioned himself to stop it on the inner loop, police said. The motorcycle rider swerved in front of a civilian car and sped away, causing the officer's car to hit the civilian's. That car rolled down an embankment onto the outer loop, where five other cars crashed into each other.
FOR THE RECORD - Because of incorrect information from state police, an article in Thursday's Maryland section misidentified the woman whose 2007 Nissan fatally struck a motorcyclist in Woodbine. State police said the driver of the car was Melinda Elizabeth Peugh, 32, of Sykesville.
The Sun regrets the errors.
Two of the injured were police officers. One was flown to a hospital with life-threatening injuries. The other was also hospitalized, but his injuries were not considered life-threatening, authorities said.
Police were looking for the motorcycle and its rider.
The accident and rescue effort caused the highway to be closed in both directions, backing up traffic for miles.
State highway officials also planned to close parts of the highway starting at 10 a.m. today as they investigate the accident.
Wheelchair stolen Tuesday returned a day later to owner
A wheelchair belonging to a woman who crawls up 14 steps to her apartment every day was stolen at the bottom of those stairs early Tuesday - but was returned a day later after the theft was publicized.
"It's like they stole my freedom," 47-year-old Carole Powell said, fighting back tears, after the theft was reported. "I have no way to get around. I can't even think about it, it upsets me so much. That chair enabled me to work and not ask anybody for anything."
Powell has used a wheelchair since 1999, when bone disease forced the amputation of her left leg below the knee.
She had to leave the wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs to her apartment. "I crawled up [to the apartment] every day," she said.
Police said someone who had read about the missing wheelchair found it yesterday. Powell was contacted, and the chair was returned.
The identity of the person who took it remained a mystery.
Powell said she thinks someone left the door to the hallway open or someone jimmied open the lock Monday night.
She had to use an uncomfortable backup chair, which is in poor shape, on her job at the MARC train station, where she sells tickets for Greyhound. She said she had recently spent $1,400 for new wheels for the stolen chair and was unable to buy a new one.
"I can't imagine a person who steals a wheelchair," she said.
Carter letter to O'Malley urges special session on BGE increases
Del. Jill P. Carter, a Baltimore mayoral candidate, sent a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley yesterday demanding a special session of the General Assembly to deal with a 50 percent electricity rate increase.
Carter has argued that a special session is needed because state regulators approved the BGE increase this month. "It is urgent that we promptly act to prevent this rate hike in order to protect Maryland ... residents," the letter read.
Motorcyclist dies after colliding with a car at intersection
A Carroll County motorcyclist died Tuesday night after colliding with a car that made a left turn into his bike's path at a Woodbine intersection, state police said.
The victim, Donald Christopher Penn, 29, of New Windsor was riding a 2003 Honda Sport north on Woodbine Road about 9 p.m. when it ran into the passenger side of a 2007 Nissan driven by Amanda Alyse Watts, 20, of Sykesville, who was turning left from the southbound lane onto Buckhorn Road, police said.
Penn, who was wearing a helmet, was thrown from the motorcycle and landed nearby. He was pronounced dead a short time later at Carroll County General Hospital, where Watts was treated for a minor injury and was released, police said. The accident was under investigation, and no charges had been filed.
State police said 186 people have died in accidents on Maryland roadways this year, compared with 203 for the same period in 2006.
Medical internist charged with sex offenses and assault
A medical internist in Salisbury faces sex offense and assault charges arising from accusations of inappropriate contact with a patient.
Dr. Mahmaud Shirazi, 40, faces the assault charges in an alleged incident with a woman during the past year.
Police told The Daily Times of Salisbury that they suspect Shirazi repeatedly touched female patients inappropriately.
The doctor was first charged May 2 after a woman told police he groped her during an examination. Additional charges were added Tuesday.