Activist killed by tree logger felled
By David Anderson
The Times Standard
EUREKA - The tree that killed Earth First protester David Chain was the
same one cut by a Pacific Lumber Co. logger, a coroner's report states.
The report issued by Humboldt County Coroner Frank Jager contradicts a
statement by Pacific Lumber Co. President John Campbell, made shortly
after the event, that Chain was hit by a second tree, knocked down in
ana accidental "domino effect."
Earth First members present at the accident scene denied Campbell's
version, saying Chain was hit by the tree that had been felled in his
direction. The question could have bearing on whether loggers knew
demonstrators were in the area and were attempting to scare them away.
Chain, 24, was one of nine protesters at a PL logging site near Grizzly
Creek Redwoods State Park on Sept. 17. He died from severe head injuries
after being struck by a falling redwood. Jager said a section of the
tree may have rolled over him.
The coroner said the 130-foot tree shattered into three sections, one of
which rolled about 65 feet downhill from the point of impact. The
section that hit Chain and may have rolled over him was about 18 feet
Jager said Chain was standing in a former skid road about 90 feet from
where the tree was being cut. But only 30 feet around the tree was clear
of brush, he said, while a scrub of manzanita, oak and other brushwood
obscured the loggers view of Chain.
Jager said loggers had not cut any of the brushwood to make a cradle for
the tree. That is sometimes done when falling a large redwood, to
prevent it from shattering on impact.
The coroner's report also states that Chain had smoked marijuana
sometime in the 30 days before he was killed. Jager said that to his
knowledge, no tests for drugs or alcohol were performed on A. E. Ammons,
the man who cut the tree that killed Chain.
Jager said his duties only extend to gathering evidence on cause of
death. Humboldt County Sheriff's officers are investigating other
aspects of the case, and will turn their findings over to District
Attorney Terry Farmer.
Sheriff Dennis Lewis has already expressed hi belief that Chain's death
was accidental, and Earth First members have acknowledged that it was
unintentional. But they say there was sufficient criminal negligence to
justify a charge of involuntary manslaughter.
An attorney for Chain's family, which lives in Coldspring, Texas, is
conducting an independent investigation to determine if there are
grounds for a civil lawsuit.
At issue is whether the logging crew knew protesters were in the area
and deliberately felled a tree in their direction. Company officials say
the loggers did not know Chain and the others were present.
Earth First activists say loggers knew they were in the area. they said
Ammons had earlier cursed and threatened protesters and told them he
wished he had brought his pistol.
Company spokeswoman Mary Bullwinkel said the video tape Earth First has
offered in support of its contention does not sound like Ammons, and may
not have been made on the same day.
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