PL delayed Chain inquiry, lawyer says

By Suzanne Zalev
The Times Standard

EUREKA-- An investigation into the forest death of an environmental
activist was not stopped on Friday by ab Earth First blockade, an Arcata
attorney said.

Contrary to the reports from Pacific Lumber Co. officials on Friday,
Steve Schectman claimed on Sunday that his investigation was postponed
because there wasn't enough daylight by the time his team got near the
site of David Chain's death.

"PL said it was too late, not us," Schectman said.

He was retained last week by Chain's family to investigate the
activist's death on Sept.17. Chain and other environmentalists were
trespassing on PL land when Chain was crushed by a falling tree.

PL officials said Chain's death was accidental and loggers didn't know
anyone was in the area. Earth Firsters said loggers were purposely
falling trees in the direction of the protesters.

Schectman said his team conducted their investigation Saturday. He said
he could not release information from his investigation because, in
order to investigate on PL property, he told LP he would keep the
information confidential.

Schectman said that early Friday, a PL representative called him to say
the Sheriff's Department wouldn't let his team in. Schectman said he
spoke to a lieutenant, who said he hadn't spoken to PL and there was no
problem with Schectman conducting his investigation.

Schectman arrived about 1 p.m. at the site near Grizzly Creek Redwoods
State Park, east of Carlotta.

"To no one's great surprise, there were physical impediments placed in
the road," he said.

Members of Earth First said they would not prevent the team from coming
in, but PL officials didn't want to walk up the road, Schectman said.

The team got permission from an adjacent landowner to drive to a point
less that a mile from the site of Chain's death.

"I said, 'Let's go for it.' they said, 'No its too late,'" Schectman

The team went back to the site Saturday morning, Schectman said. He
arrived at 9 a.m. and hiked up the hill with his team, while PL
officials drove most of the way.

Sheriff Dennis Lewis said on Sunday that the investigation was hampered
on Friday by the Earth Firsters.

"My understanding is they went out there and were met with somewhat of a
blockade," said Lewis, who added he wasn't present during Schectman's
investigation - he sent a deputy and a sergeant.

PL's team included its safety engineer and logger A> E> Ammons, who
Schectman said cut down the tree that killed Chain. There was also an
expert investigator, and Schectman said he wasn't sure who hired him -
PL or the Sheriff's department. The two are working "in tandem,"
Schectman claims, adding he thought it was inappropriate for Ammons to
be present.

"He's certainly got to be the suspect (If criminal charges will be
pressed)," Schectman said.

Lewis said he didn't know if Ammons was present at the scene, adding
that it's "hogwash" to claim his department isn't conducting an
impartial and independent investigation.

"I hope (Schectman) doesn't confuse the Sheriff's department with PL,"
he said.

PL spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkle did not return several phone calls
Sunday. A news release issued by PL on Friday claimed protesters denied
access to investigators.

[Note: The PL website has not posted this latest press release by PL.]
[Note: EF!ers have told me that they had contacted all parties to assist
them in reaching the site in spite of the physical impediments
constructed to keep PL from destroying the scene of the crime. The
Sheriff's and PL have mislead the media and failed to do as EF! had
suggested they do in order to gain easy access to the site, according to

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