Eureka Man Killed in Head-on Collision After Driving Wrong Way on Highway 101 Last Night

Hank Sims / Today @ 8:09 a.m. / Traffic

Photo: Stoney Times

From the California Highway Patrol:

On Tuesday, June 27, 2017, at approximately 2225 hours, for reasons still under investigation, a Eureka, CA, resident was driving his Toyota 4 Runner the wrong direction on US-101 (southbound in the northbound lanes) just south of Murray Road in McKinleyville, CA. 

32-year-old Gyle Maruska of Arcata, CA, was driving a 2015 Dodge 5500 pickup and trailer northbound on US-101 approaching Murray Road.

The two vehicles collided head-on killing the Toyota driver.  Mr. Marsuka suffered only minor injuries and was not hospitalized.  

Alcohol or drugs as factors in this collision remains under investigation.

The Toyota drivers’ name is being withheld pending next of kin notification.

Only one lane of US-101 was closed for a short time. 


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Body Believed to Be in Vehicle Found in Trinity River North of Hoopa

Andrew Goff / Today @ 8 a.m. / Traffic

California Highway Patrol press release:

On Monday, June 26, 2017, the California Highway Patrol was notified of a solo vehicle traffic collision on SR-96, north of Hoopa.

Sometime between Saturday, June 23rd and Monday, June 26th, an unknown driver, drove a 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe northbound on State Route 96, north of Hoopa at an unknown speed.  For reasons still under investigation, the driver made an unsafe turning movement and drove the Hyundai off the west side of the roadway.  The vehicle became airborne and collided with the hillside until it plunged into the Trinity River.  The vehicle became lodged in the river which was located in a small eddy.  A preliminary dive was conducted and a body is believed to be trapped in the vehicle. 

Further rescue efforts are being conducted and involving the Trinity County Sheriff’s Departments Search and Rescue divers.  
The California Highway Patrol would also like to thank Hoopa Tribal Chairman, Ryan Jackson, the Hoopa Volunteer Fire Department, Hoopa Tribal Police Department, Hoopa Tribal Fisheries, and Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department for their assistance.  

Humboldt CHP would like to take this opportunity to remind you to please slow down on curvy mountainous roads.  Humboldt County roadways can be extremely dangerous due to our terrain.  Please be mindful of narrowing roadways and always wear your seatbelt.



OBITUARY: Stanley ‘Bill’ Mikkelsen, 1928-2017

LoCO Staff / Today @ 7:44 a.m. / Obits

Stanley “Bill” Mikkelsen
12/02/28 – 06/20/2017

Born in Petaluma on December 2, 1928, to Herbert and Catherine Mikkelsen, Stan spent his early years on the family’s poultry ranch before moving to Ferndale where he excelled and took great pride participating on his high school football team. While attending UC Davis studying Animal Science, he was called to serve in the US Army. After his service he returned to Humboldt State where he received his degree in Biology & Accounting.

Upon entering his postgraduate years, Stan worked for Arthur Young & Co. before finding his niche in the lumber industry. Stan worked in management for Cal-Pac, Arcata Plywood, and then ultimately he purchased Del Norte Box, Co., a redwood lath mill. During his early business years, he found the courage to ask a young lady whom he had met at the bank to dance. As he did not know her name, he went to her and said, “Hey Bank of America, would you like to dance?”

Just a year or so later on July 16, 1961, Stan would marry his love, Valerie, and together soon started their family. As the years passed, Stan supported his children in sports, scouting, hunting, and camping. He volunteered in Babe Ruth, Pack 28, and Spent 22 years on the Cutten Elementary School Board.

While quiet and internal with his affections, Stan loved his family and so demonstrated by tending to Valerie as she struggled with breast cancer. He could be found every day driving her to work, picking her up for lunch, and then patiently waiting for her at the end of the day. After her passing, Stan began to reunite with his childhood friends, playing cards and reminiscing of times past. It was soon that he decided to move back to Ferndale where he looked forward to his mornings at Papa Joe’s, and a few games of Pedro or Pinochle. Stan had many close friends which he truly valued, two of which would find a special place in his heart: Chuck Gersbach and Art Pera.

Stan lived the simplest of life, never needing much. He volunteered his time freely and gave whatever he had. He was especially proud of his contributions toward prostate cancer research and for being a long-standing board member on the California Prostate Cancer Coalition, which recently honored him for his contributions toward advocacy.

Stan took great pride in all seven of his grandchildren. He is survived by his sons and their families: Todd, Melissa, Nick & Kelsey; Mark, Teri, Sara & Andrew; Chris, Lara, Ben, Emaleigh & Finley. Additionally he is survived by his brother, Jon, and his wife, Linda, of Tucson, Ariz. A private interment service will be held Friday, June 30, at Ocean View Cemetery.

We are very grateful to those who contributed to the excellent care of Stan, including those at Redwood R&R, Fresenius Kidney Care Eureka, and his dear friend Dr. Allen Mathew. Those wishing to make a memorial contribution are encouraged to consider the California Prostate Cancer Coalition, www.prostatecalif.org.

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The obituary above was submitted by Stan Mikkelsen’s familyThe Lost Coast Outpost runs obituaries of Humboldt County residents at no charge. See guidelines here.



GIDDINGS-HUNTZIGER TRIAL: Two Defendants — One Guilty of Murder, the Other Acquitted — Both Shed Tears as Jury Rules on 2015 Arcata Killing

Rhonda Parker / Yesterday @ 6:24 p.m. / Courts

Huntzinger (left, innocent) and Giddings (guilty).

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PREVIOUSLY:

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Murder suspects Billy Joe Giddings and Robert Louis Huntzinger both cried today when the verdict was read, but for different reasons.

Jurors convicted Giddings of second-degree murder, discharging a firearm and four counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. He faces up to life in state prison. But co-defendant Huntzinger was acquitted of all charges and will be released from Humboldt County Correctional Facility after being behind bars for more than two years.

Both were charged with murder and burglary in the death of 38-year-old Trevor Mark Harrison, who was shot dead on May 9, 2015, in the Arcata home of Harrison’s mother Kay Haug.

The jury deliberated for more than two days before reaching its decision. Two jurors who spoke with LoCo said they believed it was possible that Harrison did have a gun in his hand, as the defense contended.

“That was the million-dollar question,” said one juror who didn’t want to be named. But she said there was “absolutely” enough doubt about whether Harrison was armed.

Another big issue for the jury was the burglary charge. Three witnesses testified that after Giddings pulled a gun during a marijuana transaction and shot Harrison, Huntzinger came into the house with a duffel bag and went into a back bedroom, and they could hear drawers opening and closing.

But, also immediately after the shooting, Haug and her caregiver Demian Clearwater Starlight removed many pounds of marijuana bud and a gun from the house.  It was imposslble to tell whether it was Haug and Starlight or Huntzinger who had left drawers open, the juror said.

Another juror, Tyann Hamilton, said it was “not easy” for her personally to convict Giddings of even second-degree murder, but she had to follow the law, “and the law said second-degree.”

Asked what she thought happened the night of the killing, Hamilton said “chaos and confusion.”

“I don’t think anyone was acting rationally or normally,” she said.

According to trial testimony, Huntzinger and Manila resident Kimberly Steele had been at Haug’s home on Eastern Avenue twice that day before the fatal visit. They were trying to sell Haug some marijuana, and both times it was rejected.

The third time Steele came to the house with Giddings, who reportedly pulled a gun within seconds and shot Harrison as he was trying to keep Huntzinger from coming in the front door. Three eyewitnesses said Harrison was not armed, but Giddings’ attorney Luke Brownfield argued that Giddings fired only because Harrison was pointing a gun at him. And Haug admitted she disposed of a gun, but said it was because it belonged to her caregiver’s mother and was unregistered.

Haug, who was there for the verdict this afternoon, had no comment except to say she is concerned about the whereabouts of missing witness Kimberly Steele. Steele was a marijuana broker who was at Haug’s home twice that day with Huntzinger and once with Giddings. She did not testify. Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees told LoCo earlier in the trial that he had wanted to call Steele as a witness. He said he could not comment on why she was unavailable.

Giddings, in addition to the second-degree murder charge, was found guilty of four counts of assault with a semiautomatic firearm. The named victims were Steele, Haug, Starlight and Kenneth Eskridge. All were in Haug’s home when the shooting occurred, and all said Giddings held them at gunpoint.

Giddings was acquitted of the charges of robbery and making threats. Haug had said Giddings demanded and took her purse, which he denied.

Prosecutor Rees was unavailable for comment, and Giddings’ attorney Brownfield did not want to make a statement. But Russ Clanton, representing Huntzinger, said he was gratified by the jury’s decision.

“The community should take pride that we have a process that works here,” Clanton said. “That we have jurors who are prepared to deal with a very serious matter fairly and with comprehension.”

Judge Dale Reinholtsen presided over the trial and will sentence Giddings at a later date.



Giddings Convicted of Second-Degree Murder for 2015 Arcata Drug Killing; Huntzinger Acquitted on All Charges

Ryan Burns / Yesterday @ 5:32 p.m. / Courts

Huntzinger and Giddings

PREVIOUSLY:

The jury in a case of a 2015 drug killing in Arcata has found defendant Billy Joe Giddings guilty of second degree murder and assault with a firearm. The jury acquitted fellow defendant Robert Louis Huntzinger on all charges.

Both men were facing murder charges stemming from a drug robbery gone bad.

Outpost correspondent Rhonda Parker was in the courtroom when the verdicts were read and will have a full report later this evening.



Motor Home Collides with CHP Patrol Truck on Highway 101; Multiple Patients Taken to Hospital

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 5:02 p.m. / Traffic

California Highway Patrol press release: 

On 06/27/2017, at approximately 0945 hours, a 1993 Motor home driven by Harlan Myers of Portland, OR was traveling north on US-101, approximately one tenth of a mile south of Dora Creek approaching active construction zone.  Due to the construction northbound US-101 traffic was stopped and backed up just south of Dora Creek. An unmarked patrol truck (2013 Chevrolet) assigned to an investigative services unit being driven by Deputy Smith of the Mendocino County Sheriff Office was stopped in the northbound lane at the end of the backed up traffic. The Chevrolet was behind a 2007 Honda CRV and a 2004 GMC Yukon.  For reasons still under investigation, Myers failed to stop the motor home and collided with the rear of the Chevrolet.  This set off a chain reaction causing the front of the Chevrolet to collide with the rear of the Honda and then the front of the Honda to collide with the rear of the GMC.  As a result of the collision, the passenger of the Chevrolet (Trouette), a citizen on a ride-along with Deputy Smith, sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Howard Memorial Hospital by City Ambulance of Eureka.  The front passenger of the GMC (Mora) sustained moderate injuries and was transported to Jerold Phelps Community Hospital by City Ambulance of Eureka.

Cal Fire and City Ambulance assisted with medical aid.  The northbound lane of US-101 was shut down for approximately 30 minutes and Cal Fire assisted with traffic control during the incident.

This incident remains under investigation by the Garberville CHP Office and alcohol or drugs does not appear to be a factor.



Pit Bull Recovering After Being Found in Fieldbrook with Gunshot Wounds

Andrew Goff / Yesterday @ 3:15 p.m. / Crime

Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office press release: 

On Monday June 26, 2017 at about 0847 hours the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Communications Center received a call from a reporting party (RP) stating they located a dog that appeared injured. Humboldt County Sheriff’s Animal Control Officers responded to the RP’s location, Old Railroad Grade Road, Fieldbrook. Once on scene, Officers contacted the RP and the injured dog. The dog had one, possibly two, gunshot wounds to the side of the neck. It is unknown if the dog was shot in the area of Old Railroad Grade Road or somewhere else.

The Animal Control Officers transported the dog to a local Veterinary Office for treatment. Vets were able to remove at least two parts of a bullet; however several fragments still remain as they were too small to remove. The small fragments should not cause medical issues for the dog in the future.

The dog is doing well and is now being housed at the Humboldt County Animal Shelter for recovery. The dog is described as a pit bull mix, blue-brown in color, unaltered male about 4 years old with no microchip or ID. This case is still under investigation by Animal Control and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office.

Anyone who recognizes the dog or has information regarding this incident is encouraged to call the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445- 7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at 707-268- 2539.