Local Leads: 11/22/2009 - NBC4 Washington

Local Leads: 11/22/2009

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    The following stories have been hand-selected by the Assignment Desk at News4:

    A man driving a red Mustang convertible near College Park sent two state troopers to Maryland Shock Trauma Center during a wild chase Saturday that also damaged two Prince George's County police cars and a civilian vehicle before ending at Baltimore's Fort McHenry Tunnel.  Speeds topped 100 mph, police said, and the driver repeatedly swerved toward police cars. At one point, he threw a pack of cigarettes from the top-down convertible at a pursuer.  Christopher E. Murphy, 30, of Horsham, Pa., was charged with multiple counts of attempted murder, assault on a law enforcement officer, destruction of property and numerous traffic offenses, police said. He was treated at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center for minor injuries and released into police custody.  The injured troopers, Michael O'Brien and Alphrin Norman, who were in separate vehicles, were treated and released at Shock Trauma, according to state police spokesman Greg Shipley. The two Prince George's officers were not hurt.

    A 42-year-old Glen Allen man died Saturday in a hunting-related shooting accident in Charles City County.  His identity was not released pending notification of family members.  The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is investigating the accident, which occurred about 1:30 p.m. in the Barretts Road area.  Julia Dixon, a spokeswoman for the game department, said the victim was hunting with another man and a 14-year-old boy on one of the hunter’s property when a shotgun fired.  The weapon discharged while the hunters were loading up their equipment after hunting, Dixon said.  The victim died at the scene, and the body has been transported to the state medical examiner’s office in Richmond.

    A motorist driving through Arlington County on Thursday apparently received a $1,000 ticket, according to a report released by the Virginia state police.  The citation was issued during what state police called the second wave of their Operation HOV Crackdown, a stepped-up enforcement effort on the high occupancy vehicle lanes on interstates 395 and 95.  In a statement, Capt. Tracy Russillo, commander of the state police Fairfax Division, called the presence of HOV violators on 395 and 95 "the number one complaint" received by police in Northern Virginia.  The aim of the crackdown, he said, was to remind motorists not to risk using the lanes without three occupants "because you will be caught."  In reporting on the Thursday initiative, state police said that in addition to the fourth-offense ticket, which usually carries the $1,000 fine, they issued 25 for first offenses and one for a second.

    Virginia health officials are crisscrossing the state to ensure that restaurants and bars are ready to go smoke-free Dec. 1.  The smoking ban, passed by the General Assembly in February, represents both a grudging compromise between the Kaine administration and Republican lawmakers and an unprecedented departure from Virginia's permissive tobacco policy.  Some owners are getting ahead of the deadline. Before the bill's passage, about 66 percent of restaurants in the state already had cut out smoking. Now, at least 73 percent have banned lighting up, said Gary Hagy, who heads the Virginia Department of Health's division of food and environmental services.  The department has concentrated on reaching out to owners in areas such as Petersburg -- which last year had the highest percentage of smoking restaurants in the state -- as well as far southwest Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Hagy said. Northern Virginia hasn't needed much help, he added.  "A lot of the restaurants there were already voluntarily smoke-free," he said.

    Before the season began, the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys were generally considered to be on a similar level.  Both teams made the playoffs twice from 2005 to 2007; the Redskins finished 8-8 last year, while the Cowboys were 9-7. Both teams had a coach on the hot seat. And both featured a starting quarterback without a playoff victory.  But as the division-leading Cowboys (6-3) welcome the last-place Redskins (3-6) to their gaudy new stadium Sunday, the teams seem as far apart as their records.  Washington had lost four in a row until shocking Denver at home last week while scoring more than 17 points for the first time all season. Dallas had won four in row until getting upset at Green Bay last week.