Local Leads: 4/4/2010

News you need to know

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

Christians around the world are celebrating Easter this weekend. On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI delivered his papal address and apostolic blessing from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican.

A Montgomery County police officer disappeared briefly early Sunday, and when officers found him, he was trapped in his patrol car which was wrapped around a tree.  It happened around 2:25 a.m. in the 12600 block of Dalewood Drive near Wheaton High School.  One witness described an extensive mangled field of debris scattered along the wood line.  The officer was reported not breathing.  Rescuers said they discovered him entangled in the patrol car and his fellow officers attempted to perform CPR despite having a difficult time accessing him in the wreckage.  It took rescuers about 20 minutes to remove the officer and they planned to fly him to a trauma center.  But the officer, described as a 30 year old, was taken by ambulance to Holy Cross Hospital still pulse-less.

Ever dream of floating around like the men and women on the Space Shuttle? You'll want to know about some special flights out of Dulles Airport. You don't have to be an astronaut or travel to space to experience weightlessness. A company called Zero G offers flights on a modified Boeing 727 called G-Force One. The pilot performs climbing and descending maneuvers at altitudes of up to 34-thousand feet, allowing passengers to float freely inside. "[It's] sensational actually," says Zero G's Edwin Lorse. "It's true weightlessness that we create inside our airplane," Lorse says. The cost? About $5,000 per person plus tax.

Eugene Allen, a White House butler who served presidents from Harry Truman through Ronald Reagan, has died. He was 90.
Allen died of renal failure Wednesday at a hospital in Takoma Park, Md., The Washington Post reported Friday. Allen, who was black, started at the White House in 1952, when racial segregation prohibited him from using public restrooms in his native state of Virginia. When he left the White House in 1986 after 34 years, he had witnessed not only defining moments in the country's history, but also in America's civil rights movement. And on Jan. 20, 2009, he watched Barack Obama being sworn in as the nation's first black president.

Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas will spend his month-long community service sentence at a nationally recognized facility in Montgomery County near the White Flint Mall. Arenas will arrive at the Montgomery County Pre-Release Center "in the not-too-distant future," said Arthur Wallenstein, director of the Montgomery Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. He wouldn't specify when, citing a security policy. The minimum-security facility, which can house up to 177 men and women, is designed to allow residents to leave for jobs or community service programs. Most residents come directly from county jail and share small rooms that have bunk beds as they transition into society.

A sport-utility vehicle drifts into your lane going 70 miles an hour. A car dawdles along the Capital Beltway at 40 in the fast lane. The tires might be on the road, but the driver's mind is elsewhere, perhaps deep in a conversation with somebody, somewhere, and that's putting your life at risk. Fully 80 percent of area adults often see distracted driving, with reports of such behavior surging in the past five years, according to a new Washington Post poll. Nearly one-quarter of respondents said they e-mail, text or use the Internet while driving, and 16 percent said they regularly don't pay enough attention behind the wheel.   For David Grier, it's the oblivious drivers he encounters during his commute on Interstate 66. For Ted Yates, it's the text-messaging motorists he has seen ram cars from behind at College Park intersections.

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