Deputies Chase Motorcycle Through College of the Redwoods and Beyond

Kym Kemp / Friday, Oct. 17 @ 1:27 p.m. / Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff press release:

On 10-16-14, at approximately 11:45 p.m. a Humboldt County Deputy Sheriff driving a marked patrol car near Bear River Casino was flagged down by a citizen. The citizen told the deputy two motorcyclists had been involved in the purchase of multiple pounds of marijuana and just left the area. One of the motorcyclists was carrying a large army duffle bag which contained the marijuana. 

The deputy began checking the area for the motorcyclists. The deputy saw two motorcyclists matching the description provided in the area of Singly Hill Road and the Casino. As the motorcyclists turned onto Singly Hill Road, one of them failed to stop for the stop sign. The deputy attempted a traffic stop on the motorcyclist who failed to stop and who was carrying a large army duffle bag. The motorcyclist was riding a blue Yamaha 2006 motorcycle. Instead of yielding to the deputy, the motorcycle sped off and entered onto southbound US 101. The motorcycle accelerated to over 90 mph. The motorcycle then exited at Palmer Boulevard and then re-entered US 101 northbound with the deputy still pursing it. The motorcycle again accelerated to high speeds, this time accelerating to over 110 mph northbound on US 101. Due to the extreme speed, the deputy terminated the pursuit in the interest of public safety. 

Additional deputies responding towards the area from Eureka saw the motorcycle enter College of the Redwoods parking lot. As the deputies arrived at College of the Redwoods to look for the motorcycle, it again fled the deputies, back onto US 101. The deputies did not pursue the motorcyclist as it traveled southbound on US 101 in the northbound lanes at a high rate of speed, weaving in and out of traffic. The deputies lost sight of the motorcycle at Hookton Road where the motorcycle exited the freeway. 

A deputy traveling on Thompkins Hill Road spotted the motorcycle in the 3100 block. The motorcycle was parked and partially covered up with wooden pallets. Deputies and a Eureka Police K-9 searched the area for the rider and did not locate anyone. The motorcycle was impounded and the Sheriff’s Office is following up on leads as to the rider’s identity. 

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


Anonymous Donor Gives Sheriff’s Department Over $9000 to Buy Tasers

Kym Kemp / Friday, Oct. 17 @ 1:19 p.m. / News

Humboldt County Sheriff press release, 

Sheriff Michael Downey is pleased to announce that on 10-17-2014, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a $9,600.00 check from an anonymous donor. The donor learned the Sheriff’s Office was in need of additional Tasers for the patrol division, so the donor provided a $9,600.00 check to the Sheriff’s Office. This will allow the Sheriff’s Office to purchase eight additional Taser which cost approximately $1,200.00 each. All patrol deputies will now be outfitted with Tasers which the Sheriff’s Office has been issuing to patrol deputies since June 2003. The Taser has proven to be one of the safest and most effective tools in modern police work. It gives deputies another non-lethal force option when dealing with resistive and violent suspects. 

“Tasers have helped our deputies and the citizens we serve. They have allowed us to take resistive and violent suspects into custody minimizing injuries to the suspect or our deputies. This generous donation will assure all our deputies have this valuable tool,” Humboldt County Sheriff Michael Downey

City of Arcata, Police Chief and City Manager Sued for Closing Redwood Park on 420

Ryan Burns / Friday, Oct. 17 @ 10:59 a.m. / Activism , marijuana

File photo of Redwood Park on April 20, 2007.

The City of Arcata is getting sued for closing Redwood Park during the “counterculture holiday” of 420 (that is, April 20), thus preventing the annual assemblage of weed smokers celebrating weed by smoking it. 

Yesterday, local attorney Peter Martin filed the lawsuit, which also names former City Manager Randy Mendosa and Police Chief Tom Chapman as defendants, on behalf of fellow attorney Gregory P. Allen, who was the director of the county’s first medical cannabis dispensary, the Humboldt Medical Cannabis Center.

The suit alleges that, in the wake of the 2009 episode of the A&E show Intervention dubbing Arcata “Pot City, USA,” Mendosa and Chapman “concocted a five-year plan to close Redwood Park on April 20th and to end the 420 gathering.”

When Allen tried to attend the festivities in 2010, the suit alleges, he “was unable to enter the main grassy area of the park, which had been cordoned off by police.” Others were given the same treatment that year, and the suit alleges that law enforcement questioned people and issued citations in the adjacent community forest — focusing on the pot partiers. 

“The increased scrutiny and enforcement directed at plaintiff and other 420 celebrants was done on account of their exercise of their First Amendment rights, and amounts to viewpoint discrimination,” the suit says.

The City has continued to harsh the 420 vibe in subsequent years. “One year the City scheduled tree-limbing operations at both entrances to the Park on April 20th,” the suit continues. “Another year, the City dumped 2,000 pounds of smelly fish-emulsion fertilizer in the park to deter the 420 celebrants.”

The suit says that these “subterfuges” violated people’s rights to free speech, to peaceably assemble and to petition for redress of grievances — namely, restitution from The Man for 70 years of prohibition. The suit claims that a majority of the city council was aware — and approved — of the five-year plan to close Redwood Park on April 20.

That alleged plan seems to have worked. “On April 20, 2014, the event was dead; almost no one showed up to celebrate,” the suit says.

The suit, which alleges that Allen can sue on behalf of other 420 celebrants, seeks punitive damages against Mendosa and Chapman in an amount to be proven at trial, as well as attorneys fees. And furthermore, the plaintiff wants the full glory of Redwood Park’s 420 tradition restored:

“Defendant City should be required to bring the 420 celebrations in Redwood Park to their full strength of several thousand people … . [T]he City should be required to advertise the celebrations, provide adequate security and facilities, and treat the celebrants with dignity and respect.”

Reached by phone this morning, Arcata Personnel Specialist Cynthia Coronado-Brown said that the City had not yet been served with the suit, and at any rate, she added, she’s not authorized to comment. A message left with the Arcata Police Department has not yet been returned. [UPDATE: Arcata Police Chief Tom Chapman said that his department has also not yet been served and, regardless, city employees won’t comment on pending litigation.]

In a press release last year, the Arcata Police Department described its approach to 420 as strict enforcement of the Arcata Municipal Code’s restrictions on smoking and drinking alcohol in Redwood Park and the adjacent community forest.

A copy of the complaint is available in pdf form here.

Local Doctor Launches Project Aimed at Transforming the Way We Approach Death

Ryan Burns / Thursday, Oct. 16 @ 1:44 p.m. / Community , Health Care , Technology

Dr. Michael Fratkin wants to change the way people live when they’re getting ready to die. He wants to change how families experience the dying process of a loved one. And he believes that these changes, if they catch on, could revolutionize our broken health care system and transform the way our culture deals with death.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

As the director and founder of St. Joseph Hospital’s Palliative Care program, Fratkin has cared for many, many people as they approach death. Somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people have died under his care, he estimates. 

As modern medicine continues to extend life expectancy — especially drawing out people’s last days, weeks and months — Fratkin has seen how the health care system in the United States encourages, even incentivizes, quantity of life over quality.

“Back in the day you got sick and you died; that was the trajectory of things,” Fratkin said. “We didn’t have two, three, five-year periods where we know we have the disease that will kill us.”

Despite this awareness, families are often reluctant to talk frankly about worst-case scenarios, to ask loved ones exactly how, where and under what conditions they hope to spend their final hours. The result is that people often don’t die the way they would choose.

Most people in the United States would prefer to die at home rather than in an institutional setting, surveys have shown. And yet only about one in four people over the age of 65 gets to do so. As Forbes recently reported, “People are also being hospitalized more frequently in the last three months of their lives, are more likely to spend time in intensive care units, and are often receiving hospice care for just a few days before they die.”

Many families simply can’t deal openly with the prospect of death. Fratkin’s was one of them, and he still remembers the revelatory moment at age 7 when he saw his grandfather’s body lying inside a casket at his funeral. Fratkin had loved and admired his grandpa. “He was about four feet, 10 inches tall, but he was a giant to me,” Fratkin recalled. When his grandma and grandpa visited from New York City they’d bring smoked fish, bagels and chocolate cake. 

“He was one of the only grown-ups I knew who knew how to show up for kids, respect them for what they were,” Fratkin said. “He was so good and kind. And then he stopped coming.”

A year later Fratkin’s family told him that his grandpa had died. He’d been sick, but the family didn’t discuss it. The family traveled to New York City for the funeral, and Fratkin remembers feeling betrayed.

“I was this kid,” he said, “and everybody was walking around with platitudes and ‘now-now’s, patting me on the head. I was angry.” Eventually it came time to view the body. “I walked up to casket, looked inside, and I realized, ‘That’s not him. We are not our bodies.’ And that just sat with me.”

That knowledge informed Fratkin’s career, which led him from volunteering with a Hospice in Florida during the AIDS epidemic to becoming a doctor and working at Tampa General Hospital.

While there he recognized that the health care system was missing the forest for the trees. “I realized that people weren’t being seen for the people they are but the problems they had,” he said. Patients, meanwhile, experience their medical care “from middle of who they are and where they live,” Fratkin continued. The various treatments at our disposal develop a momentum all their own, often taking patients down paths they wouldn’t necessarily choose if given the option.

Fratkin says this system is both insensitive and outdated, especially given the attitudes of Baby Boomers, Gen-Xers and even millennials, all of whom have been seeking more empowerment over their own health care compared to previous generations. “They don’t necessarily want more, more, more,” Fratkin said is a recent interview. “They want the information to make their own calls.”

Data reflects these shifting attitudes. The percentage of Medicare beneficiaries dying in acute care hospitals has been falling over the past 15 years while the percentage of people 65 and older who died at home climbed from 15 percent in 1989 to 24 percent in 2007 [source]. Palliative care is becoming more and more popular.

Fratkin believes it’s possible to create a new and better system for delivering health care to the terminally ill, a system grounded in patients’ values, desires and holistic experiences rather than simply their symptoms. To this end, he recently embarked on an endeavor he’s dubbed Resolution Care, a multi-faceted project that aims not only to improve in-home palliative care for the people of Humboldt County but also to duplicate this type of care elsewhere in the state and beyond, especially in rural areas like ours. And the kicker? He’s hoping to finance this program’s start-up costs largely through online crowdfunding.

“I am crowdfunding a complete end-of-life care team,” Fratkin said with a hint of impish delight. He plans to assemble physicians, nurses, support staff, even a chaplain, all focused on providing what Fratkin calls “soulful, compassionate care” for people who are seriously ill but not yet ready for Hospice.

On Nov. 1 (Dia de los Muertos, appropriately enough), Fratkin will launch a Resolution Care project page on the fundraising website Indiegogo, an approach that he admits is unorthodox. “Nobody’s been crazy enough to crowdfund a team of professionals,” he said. 

Infographic from the Resolution Care website.

The team of professionals Fratkin has assembled will do three things, he explained. First, they will provide outpatient palliative care to people in their own homes, either via house calls or through virtual house calls using telemedicine technology.

Secondly, Resolution Care will provide telemedicine consultations to patients anywhere in California, particularly in rural areas where palliative care is lacking. Fratkin said these consultations can support the care that people are getting in their communities.

The third mission of Resolution Care will be to reproduce this palliative care model elsewhere in the state. This facet of the project, which will take place under a nonprofit operating in tandem with the corporation required for clinical services, is what Fratkin is most excited about. 

The inspiration came a revolutionary program out of the University of New Mexico called Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). A few months back Fratkin read a profile of the project in the New York Times and had what he called an “ah ha” moment.

Project ECHO was started nearly a decade ago by a hepatologist at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine named Dr. Sanjeev Arora. He had noticed problems with the treatment of New Mexico residents who had the contagious liver disease hepatitis C. Specialists were concentrated in urban areas while afflicted patients were spread across the state’s vast rural regions. Consequently, less than 5 percent of New Mexico’s estimated 34,000 chronic hepatitis C patients had been treated.

Determined to improve this situation, Arora traveled around the state meeting with care providers in rural areas, explaining that better care was possible with help from experts on the disease. As the New York Times reported,

He made an offer. If [these rural providers] volunteered to spend two hours a week with him, he and other specialists would work with them in close collaboration until they could manage their own cases.

Back in Albuquerque Arora assembled a team of specialists, and through videoconferencing they began conducting weekly case-based training sessions for caregivers across the state. Thanks to grant funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Project Echo quickly spread across the state, and it produced impressive results. Again, from the New York Times:

In 2011, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study that compared the cure rates of patients treated at the University of New Mexico’s HCV [hepatitis C virus] clinic with those treated by primary care clinicians in 21 remote ECHO sites, including federal and state run health centers and five prisons. The study reported that the primary care clinicians achieved slightly better cure rates and their patients had fewer serious adverse events. The research suggested that, when treated in local settings, patients adhered better to treatments; and primary care doctors more familiar with patients’ medical histories and personal situations could better coordinate care and anticipate problems.

This resonated with Fratkin, who had long seen the benefits — both mental and physical — of in-home palliative care. Not only are patients and family members more at peace when they’ve had conversations with palliative care specialists, but the patients also wind up spending less time in the hospital and, perhaps surprisingly, living longer.

A 2010 study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that “integrating palliative care early in the treatment of patients with advanced lung cancer not only improved their mood and quality of life, it also extended their lives.”

In recent years, Project ECHO has grown dramatically by expanding its model of hubs and spokes — that is, centralized “hubs” of expertise that disseminate knowledge through telecommunication “spokes” to a network of geographically diffuse caregivers. The project now involves more than 30 hubs dealing with 26 specialties including rheumatology, H.I.V., dementia, breast cancer and more.

Here’s Arora explaining the project’s success:

Resolution Care, Fratkin’s palliative care endeavor, has partnered with Project ECHO in the hopes of duplicating its model and its successes. Fratkin and his project partner, Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Karen Ayres, recently returned from Albuquerque and have been planning the way forward.

We will create learning units, or spoke sites, in primary care practices, dialysis centers, oncology practices and more,” Fratkin explained. “Special thought will be needed for each category, but the opportunities and options are vast.”

Resolution Care has partnered with a variety of organizations including St. Joseph Hospital, Heart of the Redwoods Community Hospice and Redwood Urgent Care. Fratkin said that a private supporter has donated $10,000, and he’s working with other donors to try to raise $100,000 in matching funds for the crowdfunding endeavor.

Organizers are still working out the rewards that will be offered to donors, but a few have been lined up. For example, a $100 donation will get you an autographed copy of Dr. Ira Byock’s book “The Best Care Possible”; renowned local sculptor Peggy Loudon will handcraft “prayer bowls” for people who donate $1,000; and $2,500 donors will be able to work with San Francisco artist Mary Mar Keenan to create a unique ceramic urn.

If the project had to rely on the traditional fee-for-service model, Fratkin said, it would be sunk immediately. And going forward it will likely depend on grant funding, federal and state money. As the New York Times said of Project ECHO, long-term, nationwide success for this model will depend on governments and insurance companies developing a standardized reimbursement approach.

Fratkin thinks this model of shared expertise would ultimately prove a better value for society. Resolution Care’s approach, he said, can transform not just palliative care but potentially the entire health care system. “My sense,” he said, “is that if we can sort out a proper and soulful way to care for people as they face their death, we can kind of work backwards and transform the health care system.”

For more information visit the Resolution Care website.

(UPDATED) Early Morning Fatality on Highway 299

Andrew Goff / Thursday, Oct. 16 @ 11:44 a.m. / Traffic

UPDATE. 1:36 p.m.: The Mad River Union is reporting that the driver killed on Highway 299 early this morning is Dylan Ruiz. The official word from CHP is included below:

The driver that sustained fatal injuries has been identified by the Humboldt County Coroners Office as 23 year old Dylan Wade Ruiz of the McKinleyville area.

# # # 

Original Post: California Highway Patrol press release: 

On the early morning of Thursday, October 16, a driver sustained fatal injuries as the result of single vehicle collision on State Route 299, east of US-101. 

Just after 3 a.m., a 2010 Mazda 2 sedan traveling eastbound on State Route 299 drove off the south roadway edge and sideswiped a guardrail. The vehicle then skidded out of control across all traffic lanes and center median, ultimately colliding head-on into the bridge railing of the Lindsay Creek Bridge on the north side of State Route 299. The driver and only occupant of the vehicle sustained fatal injuries and died at the scene.  The driver was wearing his seatbelt and the vehicle’s air bags were deployed. DUI as a factor in this collision is being investigated with the assistance of the Humboldt County Coroner’s Office. The driver appeared to have been handling a mobile electronic device at the time of the collision.

The adult male driver’s name is being withheld pending family notification.  This traffic collision is being investigated the CHP Humboldt Area office.


[UPDATED] Pair of Inmates Walk Off From Work Crew Near Broadway in Eureka

Andrew Goff / Thursday, Oct. 16 @ 11:26 a.m. /

UPDATE, 10/24: EPD tweets the following update #captured:

They followed it up with this press release:

On 10/24/14 at about 1:10 p.m. a Eureka Police Department Detective spotted work crew escapee, Brian McSilvers walking near 2nd and Q Streets. Two uniformed officers were dispatched to the area and located McSilvers. McSilvers was taken into custody without further incident and transported back to the Humboldt County Correction Facility.

McSilvers and James Henry walked away from a SWAP work crew on 10/16/14 near the 2400 block of Broadway.    

# # #

UPDATE, 11:38 a.m.: HCSO has provided the following mugs for the missing inmates. Henry is on the left, McSilvers the right:

HCSO press release:

On 10-14-2014, at approximately 10:30 a.m. two inmates, assigned to an inmate work crew, walked away from a job site they were at behind Les Schwab Tires, Eureka. A Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Correctional Officer was supervising the inmates who were clearing brush in a heavily wooded area. The Correctional Officer took a head count and noticed two inmates were missing. The Correctional Officer searched the immediate area for the missing inmates with no success. Eureka Police was notified and responded to assist with the search for the inmates who are now facing additional charges.

The inmates are identified as:

  • Brian Strehl McSilvers, 36 years old, White male, 150 lbs, short blond hair,  hazel eyes.  He was last seen wearing a blue denim shirt with a white t shirt underneath, blue denim pants and work boots. He was being held on a probation violation and was scheduled to be released on 10-24-2014.  
  • James Lawrence Henry Jr., 35 years old, 5’ 10” tall, hazel eyes, brown hair, 165lbs, bald. He was last seen wearing a blue denim shirt with a white t shirt underneath, blue denim pants and work boots. He was being held on a probation violation and was scheduled to be released on 12-15-2014.

Both inmates are from Eureka. Henry is also known to frequent the Fortuna area.

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

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office tweet release:

Two work crew inmates walked away 11 am behind Les Schwab Broadway. Wearing blu Denim shirts white t shirt , work boots and denim pants

— Steve Knight (@SteveKnightHCSO) October 16, 2014

Walkaway inmates Brian McSilvers and James Henry. Press release coming with photos

— Steve Knight (@SteveKnightHCSO) October 16, 2014


Additionally, LoCO just spoke with Lieutenant Knight via phone and he provided us the following inmate descriptions:

  • Brian McSilvers, white male adult, 6‘2”, 175 lbs., brown hair and hazel eyes.
  • James Henry, white male adult, 5‘10”, 165 lbs., brown hair and hazel eyes.

Both were wearing white t-shirts underneath blue denim shirts. Both had been in custody for violation of probation.

# # #

Get Ready For Simulated Catastrophe! The Great American Shakeout Happens This Morning

Hank Sims / Thursday, Oct. 16 @ 9:19 a.m. / Non-Emergencies

UPDATE, 11 a.m.:

The National Weather Service sends along a note reminding the Outpost that their big drill is not today, but in March — so no sirens in Old Town. We are told, however, that those near the King Salmon blast zone were treated to PG&E’s long, lonesome whistle.

Overall, a success!


All hell is going to break loose in Humboldt County at precisely 10:16 a.m. Tsunami sirens will (hopefully) blare. Coworkers will dive under their desks.

It’s the Great American Shakeout, people — a time to remember that the earth beneath our feet is forever ready to break loose and attempt to murder us all. How to cope with this existential state of affairs? Don’t freak out — shake out! Be prepared! And that’s what schools, tribes, local government and a host of other Humboldt County organizations and individuals will be doing shortly.

Shake it out, Humboldt! Get ready for this! Here’s how!