The Baltimore Sun

Army officer from Maryland is killed in Iraq grenade blast

A 27-year-old soldier from Maryland has died in Iraq, the Department of Defense announced yesterday.

1st Lt. Phillip I. Neel died Sunday in Balad after he was struck by an enemy grenade blast, military officials said.

Neel was assigned to the Army's 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas. Officials there could not say immediately where in Maryland Neel lived.

A Web site for the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., lists him as a member of its Central Texas chapter and identifies him as a resident of Fredericksburg, Texas.

Nicole Fuller

Baltimore County

: White Marsh

Man killed by train near Allender Road

An unidentified man was struck and killed by a CSX train yesterday afternoon as the train passed through the Loreley community of White Marsh in Baltimore County, a railroad spokesman said.

About 1:50 p.m., a northbound CSX train powered by two locomotives and pulling 37 empty freight cars struck the man as it was approaching Allender Road west of Gunpowder State Park. The man was pronounced dead at the scene, said Gary Sease, a CSX spokesman.

The incident is under investigation by CSX and county police. Authorities say they hope to identify the victim by his fingerprints.


Pilot radioed before fatal crash

Shortly before a small plane crashed in Baltimore County last month, killing all three people onboard, the pilot radioed that he planned to change course because of a problem with the aircraft's autopilot system, according to a preliminary report on the accident.

The Piper Saratoga plane then spun twice to the left before being lost to radio and radar, according to the National Transportation Safety Board Report.

Pilot Theodore C. Ryder, 45, Paul E. Sorensen, 48, and Timothy H. Conner, 48, all of Joppa, left Harford County Airport in Churchville at 9:06 a.m. March 24. They were headed to Abingdon, Va., to attend a stock car race in nearby Bristol, Tenn., but the pilot radioed to say that he was changing course and would land in Frederick.

The single-engine plane crashed in the yard of a Jacksonville home about 13 minutes after takeoff. No one on the ground was injured.

The impact created a 3-by-10-foot crater, and plane fragments were scattered across an 85-foot-wide area, according to the report. The major parts of the plane were recovered at the crash site and the fuel pump and the propeller appeared to have been operating. The landing gear and the flaps were in the up position, although a pilot anticipating landing would have put them in the down position, said National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz.

The autopilot feature makes the pilot's job easier and can help with navigation, but is not necessary to fly the plane, Lopatkiewicz said.

The cause of the crash is still unclear. A final report will be released in six to eight months, Lopatkiewicz said.

Julie Scharper


: Frederick

Missing woman put on FBI's Web site

A Salvadoran woman whose four children were found killed and whose husband hanged himself in the family's Frederick townhouse was added yesterday to the FBI's national list of missing persons.

The text accompanying Deysi M. Benitez's photo on the FBI's Web site contains a second alias for Benitez -- Rosi Chavez, also spelled Chaves -- in addition to an alias previously released by police, Estela Sedillo.

Benitez, 25, a legal immigrant who spoke mostly Spanish, was last seen on the evening of March 18 by a neighbor, the FBI posting said. Her husband, Pedro Rodriguez, 28, was last seen alive by a neighbor the same day, outside the family's home. The bodies of Rodriguez and Elsa, 9; Vanessa, 4; Angel, 3; and Carena, 1, were found March 26 by authorities summoned to the home.

Associated Press

Harford County

: Aberdeen

Overheated cord blamed in fatal fire

An overheated electrical cord has been identified as the cause of an Aberdeen fire that killed an 89-year-old woman this month, the state fire marshal's office said yesterday.

The fire, which broke out about 3:30 p.m. April 2, began in a basement bedroom of a house in the 700 block of Cambridge Ave. when the electrical cord for a sump pump overheated and ignited wood paneling, clothing and a chair, according to the fire marshal's office. Edna Dennison, who died of smoke and soot inhalation and burns, was bedridden, according to family members, and had been unable to escape the fire.

Anica Butler

Metro Area

: schools

2 students picked for science contest

Two Baltimore-area high school students have been selected to compete in a nationwide scientific research project that will award $50,000 college scholarships to two students.

Casey Jao, a senior at River Hill High School in Clarksville, and Elizabeth Seaman, a junior at St. Mary's High School in Annapolis, are among 60 high school students from across the country who were chosen as regional finalists in the Young Epidemiology Scholars competition, which is sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The students will compete over three days this month for the top prize in Washington.

Jao's project is titled "Developing Statistical Models to Predict Liver Fibrosis in HCV-Monoinfected and HCV-HIV-Coinfected Hemophiliacs."

Seaman's project is titled "Teen Drivers' Knowledge About Actions in Emergency Driving Situations."

Winners will be announced Monday. Two students will receive $50,000, while the others will receive scholarship awards ranging from $2,000 to $35,000.

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