>Friday, September 18, 1998
>©1998 San Francisco Examiner
>Felled tree kills redwood logging protester
>Earth Firster was trying to stop cutting near Headwaters
>By Eric Brazil
>of the Examiner staff
>An Earth First activist from Texas has become the first fatality in the
>long struggle between environmentalists and the timber industry over
>logging old growth redwoods in Humboldt County.
>David Chain, 24, was struck in the head and killed by a falling redwood
>shortly after noon Thursday in a grove near Grizzly Creek, 15 miles east of
>Fortuna on Highway 36.
>Chain - known as "Gypsy" among his Earth First colleagues - "was out there
>running through the woods, trying to talk to loggers, telling them not to
>fall the trees" when a falling tree cracked open his skull, said Darryl
>Cherney, a North Coast Earth First leader.
>The fatal accident occurred in a grove being logged by Pacific Lumber Co.,
>owner of Headwaters Forest and the focal point of anti-logging
>demonstrations. Chain's body was removed by a California Department of
>"Gypsy was the first person ever killed at an Earth First protest," Cherney
>said of Chain, who was originally from Austin, Texas.
>The Humboldt County Sheriff's Department is investigating the incident but
>did not return phone calls late Thursday requesting details. The coroner's
>office declined comment, except to confirm that a forest death attributable
>to a falling tree had occurred.
>Pacific Lumber President John Campbell said the logging crew did not see
>anybody in the area and had no idea Chain was standing nearby.
>"They felled a tree and apparently heard some yelling, and then the feller
>was cutting the tree into segments when the body was found under a limb,"
>Campbell said. He added that sheriff's investigators said Chain's death was
>"an unfortunate accident," and that the company would conduct its own
>An environmental spokesman agreed.
>"We have no details and we're not assigning blame to the feller or Pacific
>Lumber Company or anybody. It's just a complete tragedy," said Earth First
>spokesman Josh Brown.
>Earth First activists have been protesting what they contend is illegal
>logging by Pacific Lumber near Grizzly Creek Redwoods State Park for more
>than a week. They contend that the company has committed multiple
>violations of state law and is destroying the habitat of the endangered
>marbled murrelet, a bird that nests in the tops of old growth redwoods.
>Eight activists were arrested for trespassing on Pacific Lumber's Grizzly
>Creek logging operation on Wednesday.
>"This is going to change things in ways we can't even see," said Brown of
>Earth First. "We can only hope something good comes of it."
>Earth First veteran Karen Pickett said the protests will go on.
>"We've been at this for 12 years and we're still working on it," she said.
>"There's no doubt that direct action will continue. It has been an
>effective part of the whole campaign."
>At least two Earth First "tree sitters" remained high aloft in their
>protest perches Thursday night, despite the fatal accident earlier in the
>day, said spokesman Josh Brown. A vigil for Chain was to be held early
>Friday near Carlotta, Humboldt County.
>In a prepared statement, Pacific Lumber Co. said it was "deeply saddened
>(by) what appears to be a tragic accident on its property."
>But Pickett said the lumber company knew the protest was out there.
>"A number of people were out in the forest, and in fact a tree-sit was
>going on," Pickett said. "It was a public protest. There had been two press
>releases in the past two days."
>The Grizzly Creek grove where Pacific Lumber is logging is near but not
>within the Headwaters Forest and adjoining acreage that is being purchased
>by California and the federal government from Maxxam Inc., Pacific Lumber's
>parent company, for $495 million.
>The Associated Press contributed to this report.
David M. Walsh
P.O. Box 903
Redway, CA 95560
Office and Fax(707) 923-3015
Home (707) 986-1644
Return to Home