The Baltimore Sun

Fire puts boy in hospital and displaces others

A two-alarm fire caused by an unattended candle sent a 3-year-old boy to the hospital yesterday and displaced about 10 residents of a Randallstown garden apartment complex, Baltimore County fire officials said. In addition, a man and two youths were slightly injured, officials said. Firefighters were dispatched to the Gardenview Apartments in the 8500 block of Glen Michael Lane about 10 a.m. after callers had reported people trapped on the third floor and a child trapped in the basement, according to officials. The boy was taken to the pediatric unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital and was listed as "Priority 1," the most serious designation, according to the Fire Department. No further information was available on his condition. The three other victims were taken to Northwest Hospital Center with minor injuries not considered life-threatening, fire officials said. Residents displaced by the fire were being housed elsewhere in the complex, officials said. The fire, which was ruled accidental, was declared under control at 10:35 a.m.

Police identify victims of fatal Carney crash

Baltimore County police released the names yesterday of two Harford County men who were killed early Wednesday when their minivan hit a utility pole on Joppa Road in Carney. Police said the driver of the 2000 Mazda MPV was Joseph Anthony Laricci Jr., 30, of the 1800 block of Celeste Road in Forest Hill. His passenger was identified as Daryl Lamont Smith, 35, of the 1500 block of Arena Road in Street. Police said the vehicle was traveling at a high rate of speed when the driver lost control about 2:30 a.m. near Pershing Avenue. The two men were pronounced dead at the scene.

School evacuated after plastic-bottle explosion

A middle/high school in Northeast Baltimore was evacuated for about an hour yesterday after the explosion of a plastic soda bottle in a second-floor hallway, according to school system and fire department officials. No one was injured in the blast shortly after noon at Friendship Academy of Engineering and Technology, but many administrators were inconvenienced: The explosion occurred while the city's principals were meeting in the building. Friendship is a new school located in the system's Professional Development Center at 2500 E. Northern Parkway. School police, the Fire Department and the city Police Department's arson unit were investigating.

Howard eases restrictions on health access plan

In hopes of assisting unemployed people who lost or can't afford health insurance, Howard County officials are easing restrictions for enrollment in their new health access program. Dr. Peter L. Beilenson, the county health officer, was to announce today that the program is dropping its requirement that new enrollees in Healthy Howard Inc. must have had no health insurance for at least six months if the person recently became unemployed. "That rule made sense six months ago," Beilenson said in a prepared statement. "Now it doesn't, so we're changing it." Healthy Howard provides legal county residents who are uninsured access to primary health care, specialists, health "coaches" and other services for a monthly fee ranging from $50 to $115 for limited-income people. The program matched more than 1,000 uninsured people with other programs. Beilenson estimated there are about 5,000 unemployed people in the county.

Proposal would tighten oversight of SWAT teams

Upset about the shooting death of two dogs during a botched police raid at the home of a Prince George's County mayor, some Maryland lawmakers have proposed a bill that would require police departments to better monitor their use of tactical teams. Berwyn Heights Mayor Cheye Calvo visited Annapolis this week to urge passage of the measure, which would require every police department in Maryland that operates a SWAT team to submit a monthly public report on its activities, including where and when it was deployed and whether an operation resulted in arrests, evidence seizures or injuries. Calvo said he believes police forces are using SWAT teams, tactical units usually equipped with heavy-duty weapons, more and more often for ordinary police work. Members of the Prince George's Sheriff's Department SWAT team killed Calvo's black Labradors in July after officers broke down his door and raided his home in search of a drug-filled package that had been addressed to Calvo's wife. Law enforcement officials have since acknowledged that Calvo and his wife were victims of a smuggling scheme that used FedEx to ship drugs and that they knew nothing about the box intercepted by police.

The Washington Post

State's highway traffic deaths drop significantly

Maryland highway traffic deaths dropped significantly last year as the state's motorists joined in a national trend of driving less. Vernon Betkey, head of the Maryland Highway Safety Office, said preliminary figures show that the number of fatalities on state roads dropped to 560 from 615 in 2007 - a decline of about 9 percent. Nationally, road deaths were down 10.7 percent. Last year was the second in a row in which Maryland has posted a significant drop in highway deaths. In 2006, there were 651 fatalities on state roads.

Michael Dresser

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