Video may capture loggers'
"Everyone on edge' after Humboldt
Sep. 22, 1998
By MIKE GENIELLA
Press Democrat Staff Writer
Humboldt County authorities Monday expanded
their probe into last week's death of a
Earth First! protester after activists
videotape disclosing a heated exchange
victim David Chain and loggers a few hours
before he was killed by a falling tree.
At the same time, Arcata police announced
are conducting an arson investigation into
weekend fires that destroyed a Redwood
Co. logging truck and threatened several
parked rigs at two locations.
Police said physical evidence at both
them to believe the fires were deliberately
the same person. Police declined Monday to
speculate on a motive, but timber interests
they feared the incidents might have been
retaliation for Chain's death.
"Everyone is on edge. We're all taking
security precautions,'' said a logging
owner who did not want to be identified.
Sheriff's investigators today plan to fly
rugged and remote Pacific Lumber Co.
site 17 miles east of Highway 101 at
see if a pattern of falling trees exists to
contentions by environmentalists that a
Thursday knowingly cut redwoods in the
direction of Chain and other protesters,
the first fatality in a decade of
protests on the North Coast.
The logging operation has been shut down
Thursday's incident, and the site sealed
pending the sheriff's investigation.
"We're going to get as much factual
as possible, and then we're going to turn
results to the district attorney's office
said Lt. Steve Cobine.
Activists on Monday demanded that sheriff's
detectives conduct a "manslaughter
in light of the video's contents.
But Cobine said while the department is
to conduct "an unbiased review'' of
circumstances that led to Chain's death,
investigators plan to leave it up to
County District Attorney Terry Farmer to
what, if any, culpability exists.
"As investigators, we're not here to decide
was right or wrong. The facts as we gather
will determine that,'' said Cobine. He
speculate on how long it might take before
case is turned over to prosecutors for
The expanded sheriff's investigation was
prompted by a video tape apparently filmed
scene by a trespassing activist within a
of Chain's death.
The tape, if proved authentic, contradicts
reports by Pacific Lumber representatives
logging crew was unaware Chain and others
were in the area when the fatal accident
happened. The company initially said
worked undisturbed from 7 a.m. to about
when Chain is believed to have been crushed
death by a falling redwood.
A video tape turned over to authorities
an angry logger shouting obscenity-laced
warnings at Chain and other intruders.
difficult at times to hear every spoken
logger at one point seems to threaten to
tree falling in the direction of protesters
Pacific Lumber spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkel
conceded Monday that initial company
statements indicating the logging crew was
unaware Thursday that activists were even
site were incorrect. She said those
stemmed from sketchy information first
from company workers at the scene.
"Things were happening very fast. We got
best information we could at the time,''
Bullwinkel said even with the tape's
it's clear there had been no confrontation
least an hour before the accident.
"There is no way a logger could have
targeted Mr. Chain by falling a tree in his
direction,'' said Bullwinkel.
Pacific Lumber President John Campbell said
Monday he viewed the tape and found it
"We could not identify the person speaking
because the sun was shining behind his
he could not be clearly seen. Nor could any
the intruders, because their backs were
the camera,'' said Campbell.
Campbell said while it's clear the logger
angry, "I don't think what he was saying
Campbell admitted the obscenity-laced
captured on tape "doesn't present a pretty
"But given the circumstances, I think the
frustration is understandable,'' said
© 1998 The Press Democrat
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