OBITUARY: Aaron Rydell Coffelt, 1971-2015

LoCO Staff / Today @ 7:24 a.m. / Obits

Born June 3, 1971, in Ketchikan, Alaska, son to Arlene and Robert Coffelt of Fieldbrook and his biological father Burt Colegrove Jr. of Craig, Alaska, Aaron died at the age of 44 on Nov. 11 in Rio Dell.

Aaron and his family moved to Fieldbrook on July 5, 1975, when he was four years old. He attended Blue Lake and Fieldbrook elementary schools and attended McKinleyville High School.

At the age of 16 years old he became a logger working for Coffelt Logging. He continued being a logger for 28 years until his sudden death.

Aaron was greatly loved by family and friends and will truly be missed. He was always willing to help family and friends when they needed it with a smile on his face. Aaron had a huge heart and was very good-natured. Growing up he loved helping his Dad work on trucks – he was such a “go getter” he was nicknamed “Goey.” Later on in life he went by the nickname of “Rocket,” given to him by his fellow co-workers in logging for being so fast at his job in the woods. Before his death he lived a farm helping his best friend Ed Barisdale milk cows and keep up on his property.

He is survived by his mother Arlene Coffelt and sister Gorgie Coffelt-Lane of Korbel, his sister Ava Coffelt and niece Lexi Farias and brothers Burt Coffelt and Ron Coffelt all of Arcata, his son Travis and grandson Lance of Fortuna, his father Burt Colegrove Jr of Craig, Alaska, aunt Amelia McAlpin and aunt Doretta Dowhitt of Ketchikan, Alaska, and Aunt Margaret Kennedy of Klawock, Alaska, as well as his best friends Edward Barisdale of Rio Dell and Buck Munk.

A Celebration of Life will be held for Aaron on Sunday Dec. 6 at Merryman’s by Moonstone Beach at 2 p.m. until dark. We would like to welcome everyone who knew Aaron. Our family wants to thank everyone who has called and sent their condolences. If anyone has any questions please email me at


The obituary above was submitted by Aaron Coffelt’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email


Today: 6 felonies, 14 misdemeanors, 0 infractions


Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Today


Us101 N / Us101 N Benbow Ofr (Garberville office): Animal Hazard

Myrtle Ave / Pigeon Point Rd (Humboldt office): Trfc Collision-No Inj

Us101 N / Us101 N College Of The Redwoods Onr (Humboldt office): Trfc Collision-1141 Enrt


RHBB: Eureka Man Arrested For DUI in Yesterday’s Accident on West Henderson

Mad River Union: Arcata Florist opens in Sunny Brae Center

Redwood Coast Business: The Bees

Redwood Coast Business: Dinner, Fundraiser Sunday for the Golden Rule


OBITUARY: Daniel Roland Kennedy, 1949-2015

LoCO Staff / Today @ 7:11 a.m. / Obits

Dan died November 24, 2015 in Fortuna, Calif.

Dan was born in Bakersfield on Feb. 20, 1949. He grew up in Fortuna and spent most of his life there, and graduated from Fortuna High with the class of 1967.

Dan never met a stranger, always had a smile and kind word. Dan enjoyed visiting and telling jokes, and for many years he was a fixture at Pepper’s in Fortuna, where he sat outside drinking his coffee, smoking a cigarette and opening the door for customers. He loved sports events and was a true Giants fan. Dan was very proud of his over 20 years of sobriety.

Dan was preceded in death by his parents Daniel and Elnora Kennedy. Dan is survived by his brothers Jim Kennedy and Larry (Sherry) Kennedy and his sisters Nancy (Doug) Griffith and Barbara Schroeder. Dan is also survived by several nieces and nephews and best friends Larry and Ruth Dekat and family, who cared for and helped him for many years, as well as best friend Mike Steadman.

Friends are invited to join us at 3 pm on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2015 at the Fortuna Adventist Community Services Center at 2331 Rohnerville Rd., Fortuna, to share memories of Dan, have something to eat, and to celebrate his life.


The obituary above was submitted by Dan Kennedy’s family. The Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here. Email


Big Early Morning Boom on the West Side of Arcata

Hank Sims / Today @ 6:32 a.m. / Two Makes it True

Your Lost Coast Outpost woke up to reports of an ungodly loud explosion that rocked residents of the Windsong/Greenview/Coastal Grove neighborhood of Arcata this morning at about 3:40 a.m.

What was that crazy explosive boom in Arcata 3:30am Dec 1? Super bright flash into my house and sounded/felt like an explosion.

Posted by Deborah Waxwoman on Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Another reader writes:

Hey LoCo, there was a ground shaking boom over here in Arcata, Windsong Village area. Any ideas what it was? Just happened maybe 20 minutes ago, setting off car alarms, people coming out on porches, etc. Any info?

And still another:

We just had a HUGE boom in the bottoms of arcata. Villa way and Haeger intersection. Set off car alarms everywhere. It was the loudest explosion I’ve ever heard.

Even an Arcata police officer patrolling near the intersection of Sunset and H heard it, as evidenced by this clip of police radio communication at 3:45 a.m., the first mention of the boom on our scanner tape.


For at least the next 15 minutes or so, officers patrolled the area and spoke with some people who were shaken from sleep. Most of the activity seemed to be centered on the Iverson/Blakeslee/Zehndner corridor near Coastal Grove Charter School. One person told the police that he believed it to be a gas explosion of some sort, as his or her heaters started acting funny right after the boom. Another person reported seeing smoke a few blocks away, at the corner of 11th and Villa.

If police cracked the case, it is not immediately apparent from the record of their communications. We’ll try to get hold of someone later today. But the fire department and/or ambulance services seem never to have been notified, so we can probably cross “hash-lab explosion” off the list.

Approximate location of the boom in the map below. Did you hear it? What was your experience?

Liberal Power Couple Sopoci-Belknap and Brinton Leaving Humboldt For Sacramento

Ryan Burns / Yesterday @ 5:33 p.m. / People of Humboldt

Brinton and Sopoci-Belknap.

Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap, a liberal activist and longtime board member on the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District, recently announced her resignation from that government body, effective March 10, 2016. Her term is scheduled to last through December 2016, and in her resignation letter she notes, “I have every confidence that the Board will choose a capable replacement for me to serve during those interim months.”

Why the departure? Sopoci-Belknap tells the Outpost that she and her husband, former Arcata City Councilmember Shane Brinton, are picking up and moving to the state capitol.

“We are excited to be moving to Sacramento as it is a lovely and diverse city,” she told the Outpost in an email. Her message continued:

It is an a important move for the work that both of us do. Move to Amend is making great strides in building the movement to amend the constitution to eliminate corporate constitutional rights and get big money out of politics, but it has gotten to the point that being in such an isolated location is too great an inconvenience for a national campaign. As for Shane, he’s eager to make greater contributions to the struggle for workers’ rights in a place where there is more action in the Labor Movement.

We’re sad to part ways with Humboldt for the time being but this will always be a special place to us. We’ll miss everyone (probably even the people you wouldn’t think we’d miss) but we won’t be that far away and we won’t be strangers. If nothing else we’ll need to come visit when Sacramento is 125 degrees and we need a fog fix!

Sopoci-Belknap has been involved in local political and social causes for many years, co-founding such groups as Democracy Unlimited and Local Solutions. Brinton first entered public office 10 years ago when, at the tender age of 18, he won a seat on the board of the Northern Humboldt Union High School District. He was elected to the Arcata City Council in 2008, and he resigned in 2014 to care for his ailing mother.

Best of luck in Sac, you two.


Three Arrested After Stolen Mercedes-Benz Spotted in Casino Parking Lot

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 2:48 p.m. /

(Above, L to R: Yacks, Ball, Lebrun)

Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff press release: 

On Friday, November 27, 2015 at approximately 9:20 a.m. a Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff was driving through the parking lot of the Bear River Casino looking for stolen vehicles when he spotted a vehicle that matched the description of a blue Mercedes-Benz that was on the list. The Deputy conducted a records check on the vehicle’s license plate number and confirmed the vehicle was still listed as stolen.

The Deputy followed the vehicle as it exited the parking lot and drove down the road. Additional Deputies responded to the location and they conducted a traffic stop on the stolen vehicle. The Deputy questioned the driver of the vehicle, Donna Yacks, age 46, of Phillipsville, as well as passengers Steven Ball, 68, of Phillipsville, and Ronald Lebrun, 42, of Phillipsville. Yacks stated she purchased the vehicle from Jesse James Adams, age 33, of Phillipsville. Yacks stated she paid $400 for the vehicle, and it did not come with a bill of sale. Deputies located drug paraphernalia in Yacks’ purse. Ball was questioned next and he stated it did seem strange the vehicle did not come with a bill of sale. A Be-on-the-Lookout was issued for Adams. All three were arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for the charges below.

  • Yacks – PC496D(a)- Possession of a Stolen Vehicle; HS11377(a) – Possession of a Controlled Substance; and HS11364(a) – Possession of Controlled Substance Paraphernalia.
  • Ball – PC496D(a) – Possession of a Stolen Vehicle
  • Lebrun – Out of County Warrants


On Saturday, November 28, 2015, Deputies noticed a bicyclist riding in the dark without lights on the 3900 block of Cedar Street, Eureka. The Deputy stopped the bicyclist and it was Jesse James Adams. Adams was arrested and transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for PC496D(a) – Possession of a Stolen Vehicle; and VC10851(a) – Take a Vehicle Without the Owners Consent.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s Office regarding this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268-2539.

Warren Trial, Day 11: Both the Prosecution and Defense Rest

Ryan Burns / Yesterday @ 2:43 p.m. / Courts

Jason Anthony Warren’s defense attorney, Glenn Brown with the county’s Alternate Counsel office, made no opening statement, called only two witnesses to the stand and took less than three hours to mount a rather feeble defense of his client, who stands charged with two counts of murder, one with special allegations of torture and lying in wait, and two counts of attempted murder.

Resuming the case after a weeklong Thanksgiving break, Special Prosecutor Paul Sequeira read a statement about the 2001 crimes that foreshadowed the events of the current case. In that year Warren admitted in Humboldt County Superior Court that he had “willfully, unlawfully and with malice aforethought attempted to murder Cid Miller,” a taxi cab driver, on April 10, 2001, the statement said. Warren also admitted assaulting Arcata resident Fred Her with a deadly weapon — namely, the taxi cab, which he’d stolen after stabbing Miller. Warren was just 16 years old at the time.

The statement represented the conclusion of the prosecution’s case.

And so, nearly four weeks after the trial began and more than three years since the crimes were committed, it was the defense attorney’s turn to argue his side. Brown opted not to give an opening statement. He’d chosen not to offer opening remarks at the beginning of the trial, either, though Judge Timothy Cissna said at the time that he’d have an opportunity at the beginning of the defense’s case. That opportunity came and went today.

Instead, Brown called to the stand a witness named Steven Walker, who described himself as a retired California Highway Patrolman now self employed as a “traffic collision reconstruction consultant” who’s usually hired by public defense attorneys.

In his testimony, Walker addressed the scene of the collision between a 2005 Kia Spectra, allegedly driven by Warren, and the three women and a dog struck from behind on Myrtle Avenue, north of Eureka, back in September 2012. Walker offered an alternative interpretation of the field of evidence from that presented earlier in the case by several collision reconstruction specialists. He suggested that the driver may have lost control of the vehicle after coming out of a downhill curve, swerved across the oncoming lane of traffic and onto the opposite shoulder, inadvertently hitting the three runners and dog before correcting course.

Brown had Walker review a diagram and photos of the accident scene, which Walker said indicated that the car followed a curved path. While the collision itself happened on a long straightaway, Walker suggested that the driver may have been thrown off course after cresting a hill and encountering a curve before that straightaway.

Walker faced skeptical, even incredulous cross-examination from Sequeira, who questioned Walker’s credentials along with his take on the evidence. 

Walker had mentioned using Google Earth to review the approach to the collision scene, and Sequeira called up that technology on a large monitor in the courtroom. He showed an image of what the roadway looks like from the top of the hill in question:

Google Earth image.

“You don’t consider that a dangerous roadway by any stretch, do you?” Sequeira asked.

“No,” Walker conceded.

Sequeira then quoted — perhaps mockingly — from Walker’s own report on the accident scene. “‘In a visceral sense, a northbound driver would lose his visual space cushion,’” Sequeira read. What did that mean?

Walker attempted to describe a distinction between a driver’s visceral sense and analytical sense of the roadway.

Another line in his report mentioned that the road “curves remarkably.”

Sequeira gestured at the screen. “What’s remarkable about that curve?” he asked. “Doesn’t that look like a gentle turn?”

Walker described it as a 45-degree turn.

Sequeira continued picking away at Walker’s analysis, finally arriving at the collision itself. The Kia, Sequeira pointed out, hit all three women and the dog, striking one of the women dead-center on the bumper and windshield, despite the fact that they were within the shoulder on the opposite side of the road. Doesn’t that speak to intent? Sequeira asked.

Walker would not concede that it did. 

The final witness in the case was Cheryl Magnusson-Franco, a Humboldt County Sheriff’s investigator who’d testified on Nov. 12. Brown played a segment of security camera footage captured at the Hoopa home of Dorothy Ulrich roughly 12 hours before she was stabbed and bludgeoned to death with a samurai sword. The footage showed Warren, Ulrich and a neighbor smoking and talking about a gun that had been stolen from Ulrich’s property recently.

Judge Cissna instructed the jury that the footage wasn’t being shown for the purpose of possibly impeaching the prior testimony of the neighbor, Tiffany Martin.

And with that, Brown rested his case.

Cissna told the jurors that court will reconvene Wednesday morning at 8:30, when the jury will be given instructions for deliberation and the attorneys will deliver their closing arguments.


YOUR WEEK IN OCEAN: Let’s Put Oceans on the Climate Change Agenda

Delia Bense-Kang / Yesterday @ 2:38 p.m. / Ocean

Stay “current” with ocean issues during the Paris Climate Change Conference! 

The United Nations Climate Change Conference  is taking place right now through Friday, Dec. 11. It is the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21) and the 11th session of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP). United Nations member states will come together to create an international agreement on climate with the goal of keeping warming below 2 degrees Celsius. 

Shockingly, the ocean, one of the planet’s largest players in climate change, is not officially on the COP21 agenda! But efforts are being made to inject the ocean into the climate change discussion. Here are a few ways you can stay current with ocean-related happenings during COP21:

The Ocean and Climate Platform is an alliance of NGOs and research institutes, and has launched a campaign called “Ocean’s Call for Climate” (#oceansforclimate). They have started a petition to put the ocean on the agenda, which you can sign here

Dr. Sylvia Earle, Mission Blue Founder/chairperson and National Geographic Explorer in Residence, is the new ambassador for the campaign. She will be attending the conference and is also aiming to bring attention to ocean conservation issues. Dr. Earle will be joined by primatologist Dr. Jane Goodall and will lead a talk on Dec. 7 from 10:30 to 11 a.m. discussing how to abate climate change on land and sea. 

On Thursday, Dec. 3, you can virtually attend the Ocean and Climate Forum for free! The day will be dedicated to learning, exchanging and discussing the interconnections between ocean and climate change through a series of plenary discussion panels, workshops and scientific briefings with high-level sessions. You can register here.

You can also physically attend Ocean Night on Thursday, Dec. 3, 6:30 p.m., at the Arcata Theater Lounge. Join Surfrider Humboldt for never-before-seen local underwater footage, a presentation by MARE and the 1987 Hollywood classic film North Shore

Oceans Day will be held Friday, Dec. 4 as part of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (on the sidelines of COP21). The goal is to result in a strategic action plan for the oceans and climate change agenda for the next five years. The day will feature reports and policies on oceans and climate, focus on ocean acidification, biodiversity, fisheries and more. 

Last week Surfrider Humboldt asked you to show us how you are giving thanks to the ocean. Here’s the winning photo submission featuring 12-year-old Nate Ferguson, enjoying the ocean’s bounty in Trinidad. How inspiring to see one of today’s youth out in the physical environment instead of stuck in a virtual world! Way to go, Nate! 


Delia Bense-Kang serves as the Northcoast Environmental Center’s Marine Protected Area Outreach Coordinator and chairs Surfrider Foundation’s Humboldt Chapter.