Inmate road crews ended after fatality

STATE DIGEST

August 25, 2007

A state prison inmate who was hit by a truck and killed Thursday while working along the Capital Beltway was identified yesterday as Rodney Jennings, 28, who had been serving a two-year sentence for possession of drugs with intent to distribute.

Maj. Priscilla Doggett, a spokeswoman for the Division of Correction, said the prison system is suspending road work crews from the Herman L. Toulson Boot Camp in Jessup until better safety standards can be established.

The incident was the second fatality involving a Division of Correction highway crew member in the past three months. Doggett said the agency is concerned that there have been two fatal accidents so close together. She said the state had never had an inmate road-crew fatality before June.

"There is no indication that there were any procedural errors that contributed to this accident," she said. "We will take the moment to reflect - to look back on this - to see if there are any additional precautions we can take."

Police said Jennings was working on a trash-removal detail shortly after 10 a.m. near Interstate 495 and Landover Road with five other male inmates from the boot camp.

A State Highway Administration safety vehicle and a prison passenger van were closing a ramp to let the workers cross from the center median to the right shoulder when a dump truck drove around the safety vehicles and struck Jennings as he tried to cross.

He was taken by ambulance to Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly, where he was pronounced dead.

The driver of the dump truck, identified as Wayne H. Gross, 38, of Clinton, remained at the scene and was unhurt. No charges had been filed, but investigators were planning to present evidence to the Prince George's County state's attorney's office.

Police said the inmates were wearing the required fluorescent-green safety vests and were being supervised by correctional officers, who administered first aid before an ambulance arrived.

Michael Dresser

Frederick County

Town considers zoning law to block land sale to sect

The rural town of Walkersville is considering a zoning ordinance that could block plans for annual gatherings by thousands of members of the persecuted Ahmadiyyah Muslim sect.

The proposal, aired at a town meeting Wednesday, would prohibit places of worship, educational facilities and private clubs on land zoned for agricultural use.

Syed Ahmad, who is managing Ahmadiyyah Muslim Community USA's pending purchase of 224 acres of Walkersville farmland, said yesterday the group won't fight to go where it's not wanted.

"We are a very peaceful community," Ahmad said. "We're hoping they will see that this is something which is mutually beneficial and will coexist with the town, and allow us to do this thing."

Local landowner David Moxley has a contract to sell the property to the group, based in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring, about 45 miles away. The transaction could come up for a vote by the town's zoning appeals board as early as Oct. 4.

Burgess Ralph Whitmore, who acts as mayor of the town of 5,600, said Wednesday that neither he nor the five commissioners would comment on the proposed ordinance or the pending land sale.

The Ahmadiyyah, or Ahmadis, believe that their spiritual leader, Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908, was a prophet of God. They regard themselves as Muslims but they have been barred from practicing their faith in Pakistan, resulting in violent clashes with hard-line Muslims.

At the town meetings this week, some residents said the town can't handle such a large influx of visitors. But others said they would welcome the Ahmadis.

Associated Press

Queen Anne's

Calif. driver of stolen car charged after fatal accident

A man accused of stealing a sport utility vehicle in Chestertown and crashing it in Centreville, killing a local school official, has been charged with vehicular manslaughter and vehicle theft.

Police say Daniel Savage, 23, of San Diego, Calif., stole a 1999 GMC Yukon parked outside Howard's General Store on Thursday. State troopers issued a lookout for the stolen vehicle, and Savage was spotted about 3:20 p.m. in Centreville.

Police say Savage sped up after seeing a police car, then ran a red light and hit and killed John Andrews, 71, assistant principal at Queen Anne's County High School. Andrews was driving a 2005 Lincoln Town Car.

Savage was treated and released. He was being held yesterday on a $1 million bond.

Allegany County

Maryland Court of Appeals to to hear development lawsuit

Maryland's highest court will hear in December a dispute over a 4,300-unit planned community near the Green Ridge State Forest in rural Western Maryland.

In documents filed Wednesday, the Court of Appeals in Annapolis agreed to hear Trail v. Terrapin Run, a disagreement over how closely a land use must hew to a county's comprehensive plan.

Opponents of the development planned by PDC Inc. of Columbia appealed to the high court after the Court of Special Appeals ruled in April that the Allegany County Board of Zoning Appeals acted appropriately in declaring the project "in harmony with" its comprehensive plan in 2005.

The Court of Appeals also granted motions by the state Department of Planning and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to participate in support of the project's opponents.

Associated Press

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