Tuesday, April 29, 2014

(UPDATED) Martin Movement

Posted By on Tue, Apr 29, 2014 at 1:57 PM

UPDATE: Contract approved!

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The Eureka City Council is holding a special session at 11 a.m. Tuesday (April 29) to consider a contract with Eureka-based Wahlund Construction to complete part of the Martin Slough Interceptor Project — that long-in-the-making streamlining of pipes taking Eureka’s sewage to Elk River Wastewater Treatment Plant by Humboldt Bay.

No, Wahlund’s crew won’t be the guys yanking on that stuck drill left beneath Pine Hill by Apex Directional Drilling, the Portland-based company that walked off the job in early April after reaching an impasse with the City in a contract dispute.

You can read about that in our story “Stuck,” but here’s a quick refresher: Apex was drilling a hole through the base of Pine Hill, from the Eureka municipal golf course to the bottomlands east of Highway 101, through which a new sewer pipe would be threaded. The hole was completed, but with great difficulty, said Apex, which claimed that the soil was not as advertised in the bid package. While Apex tried to negotiate changes in its contract to account for this, the ground collapsed around the drill steel. It’s still there.

Apex also was contracted to do the drilling for the second stretch of the pipeline — from the bottomland, under Highway 101 and over to the wastewater treatment plant. And in both stretches of the force main pipeline, there are places where the pipe will be laid in a trench (rather than threaded through a hole). That’s where Wahlund comes in, says Eureka City Engineer Charles Roecklein.

Wahlund was originally subcontracted to Apex to do these trenching sections. Now the city wants to give the nearly $4 million contract for the last stretch to Wahlund, who, meanwhile, has identified a driller to work with, says Roecklein.

As for the first section where the pipe is stuck, he says, that’s on hold while the city and Apex try to resolve their issues. No lawsuits have been filed, he says, adding, “We’re working diligently to resolve the issues amicably.”
But there is no time to be lost, he adds.

“This thing has been stymied for so many years,” he says. “The whole community has been waiting for it to get done. And we’re really right at the 11th hour now. Which is why we’re moving ahead now fast as we can.”

After the force main is completed, another bid will go out for construction of the collectors in the system.

“We want the entire Martin Slough Interceptor Project to be done this calendar year,” Roecklein says.
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Saturday, April 26, 2014

One Hot Firehouse

Posted By on Sat, Apr 26, 2014 at 7:51 PM

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Several hundred people turned out this afternoon to celebrate the grand re-opening of the remarkably good-looking firehouse in Fieldbrook. Fire Chief Rich Grissom and his all-volunteer crew of fire fighters presented a plaque of appreciation to builder Gene Callahan and his wife, Chris, owners of Black Oak Construction.

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Skilled and unskilled workers, under the direction of project manager Cam Appleton, were fueled daily throughout the winter by homemade lunches and baked goodies that magically appeared. The $350,000 remodel was completed under budget using all-volunteer labor and donations from area businesses.

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The ribbon was cut, and hamburgers and cake were enjoyed by all.

For background on this community-driven production, check out our previous coverage.


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Friday, April 25, 2014

Blue Lake Rancheria Chairwoman Honored

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 4:46 PM

bluelakerancheria.jpg
It’s been 30 years since the Blue Lake Rancheria regained its federal status, and 20 years since Sylvia Daniels — who was instrumental in the rancheria’s resurgence — died.

By the late early 1980s, the Blue Lake Rancheria hadn’t been recognized by the federal government for nearly 20 years, according to a Times-Standard article at the time. The tribe had given up its status in exchange for the land it settled on in Blue Lake in the 1960s. But by the late ‘70s, a class-action suit developed, accusing the federal government of improperly terminating tribal status in similar situations around California.

Through Daniels’ work, the Blue Lake Rancheria was reinstated in 1984. She became the chairwoman of the Rancheria and led it passionately, her family says, until her death in 1994.

Daniels and her family have ancestors who survived the Indian Island Massacre of 1860.

Daniels’ sister, Helen Louise Ortinier-Lance, said her great-great-grandmother Nancy Roberts (Hitchcock) was one of the few people to escape slaughter.

In a history recounted on this blog, Nancy Roberts hid from the attackers and then rescued several children left alive. Here’s the harrowing account, related by William James Sykes to the Department of the Interior:

“Cousins Matilda and Nancy were up tending Nancy’s two year old son Stephen Hitchcock, who was ill… they gathered up their children (George Spear, William Sykes, Andrew Hitchcock) and ran to hide on the west side of the island. After the militia left, they returned ... and found seven children. They gathered the children together, put them in the only remaining canoe and swam the canoe across the bay to Freshwater Creek and then walked to Matilda’s husbands homestead in Freshwater … later … soldiers found another child had survived under his dead mother. This child was Jerry James”. [Dept of the Interior Letter to Jan Silva, 13 March 1987; info given to dept by William James Sykes]

The Blue Lake Rancheria is holding a 20th anniversary memorial and library rededication in Sylvia Daniels’ honor on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. The ceremony, at 428 Chartin Road in Blue Lake, is open to the public.
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The Condors Are Coming

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 2:19 PM

California condor - PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
  • Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  • California condor

The Yurok Tribe could be releasing some California condors into the wild somewhere along the lower reaches of the Klamath River within the next three years, according to the Associated Press and a news release from the Yurok Tribe (see below).

It's been about a century since the huge, ponderous condor — called Prey-go-neesh in Yurok — soared through these skies. It is an important being to the Yurok, as the tribe's news release notes:

"The condor was amongst the first animals to be placed here by the Creator. Various feathers, particularly the large wing feathers, are used to make ceremonial regalia, and feature heavily in Yurok world renewal ceremonies, like the Jump Dance and the White Deer Skin Dance. Feathers were collected opportunistically, as gifts from the birds, as the birds themselves were never to be harmed or killed."

The tribe's been researching reintroduction of the once-near-extinct bird for the past five years, in part by studying how its relative, the turkey vulture, inhabits the land, and also by looking at removing the barriers to its success as a species, such as poisoning from lead-bullet contamination in carcasses. Now the tribe has the go-ahead from the state and feds for "test releases."

You can read more about the tribe's launch on this journey in our previous coverage. And here's the Yurok Tribe's official news release:

Continue reading »

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Wrecked Ship Was Eureka-Bound

Posted By on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Newspaper illustration of the collision between - RMS Oceanic and SS City of Chester - ILLUSTRATION COURTESY THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
  • Illustration courtesy the San Francisco Chronicle
  • Newspaper illustration of the collision betweenRMS Oceanic and SS City of Chester
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has located the sunken wreckage of the City of Chester, a passenger steamer that’s lain underwater near the Golden Gate Bridge for 126 years.

“The 202-foot long steamship City of Chester had just left San Francisco and was headed up the California coast to Eureka with 90 passengers on Aug. 22, 1888, when around 10 a.m. it was struck by the steamer Oceanic,” says a NOAA news release. “Impaled on Oceanic, which was arriving from Asia, City of Chester remained afloat for six minutes before sinking. Sixteen people died in the accident.”

The 16 dead were all from the Chester: three crew members and 13 passengers, one of whom was Eureka resident Mrs. C. H. Haney, a widow traveling with her relative J.J. Loggie, according to a report at the time in the Daily Alta California. The 440-foot Oceanic suffered minimal damage and no losses. The disaster was the second worst in the bay.

Initial news reports were tinged by the prevalent racism of the time against Chinese people. The Daily Alta California reported that survivors from the City of Chester witnessed confusion and panic among the Oceanic’s 1,105 passengers, mostly Chinese, but also “apathy.”

“…the Chinese crew of the Oceanic showed little energy in saving life,” said the newspaper. “Had they been white sailors, instead of coolies, all on the Chester might have been saved.”

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The investigation, in which many survivors, including both ship’s captains, were questioned, revealed that in fact the Oceanic’s crew behaved heroically during the disaster, including one man who leaped into the bitter-cold bay to save a little boy. Criticism turned to praise, then, says NOAA's account of the wreck and its aftermath.

The collision happened in heavy fog. And while initial reports, again, assumed the Oceanic was at fault, the investigation revealed that both captains had made misjudgments. You can read reports of the investigation collected at the website Encyclopedia Titanica, and a full accounting of the court case in the 1894 Federal Reporter, Vol. 61.

Using sonar, NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey Navigational Response Team detected the Chester “sitting upright, shrouded in mud, 216 feet deep at the edge of a small undersea shoal. High-resolution sonar imagery clearly defined the hull, rising some 18 feet from the seabed, and the fatal gash on the vessel’s port side.”

2013 multi-beam sonar profile view of the - shipwreck SS City of Chester. - IMAGE COURTESY THE NOAA OFFICE OF COAST SURVEY NRT6
  • Image courtesy the NOAA Office of Coast Survey NRT6
  • 2013 multi-beam sonar profile view of theshipwreck SS City of Chester.

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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mother of Student Killed in Bus Crash Sues FedEx

Posted By on Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 12:28 PM

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The mother of a prospective Humboldt State Student killed in an April 10 bus crash is suing FedEx, the bus line and the estate of the FedEx driver whose truck crossed the median and collided with the bus.

The LA Times reports that Rosa Rivera, the mother of Dorsey High School student Jennifer Bonilla filed the lawsuit, which seeks $100 million in damages, on Tuesday.

The suit claims FedEx negligently operated its freight trucks, despite previous incidents of vehicles catching fire due to mechanical problems, driver error or improperly loaded cargo.

Some witnesses reported the FedEx truck was on fire before it hit the chartered bus.

The suit also names the estate of the FedEx driver, Timothy Paul Evans, and the bus company, Silverado Stages, as defendants in the case, claiming the bus was not equipped with enough emergency exits for escape.

Neither FedEx or the bus line commented on the suit.
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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

St. Joes Service Workers Vote Union

Posted By on Tue, Apr 22, 2014 at 9:26 AM

St. Joseph Hospital- Eureka service workers on the union organization committee. - PHOTO COURTESY OF KERRY SWEENEY
  • Photo courtesy of Kerry Sweeney
  • St. Joseph Hospital- Eureka service workers on the union organization committee.

Service workers at St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka have voted 149 to 74 to join the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), with 223 of the 227 eligible bargaining unit members voting. The ballots were counted Friday, April 18.

The workers voting for representation include nursing assistants, housekeepers, monitor technicians, cafeteria workers, operating room aides and emergency room technicians, phlebotomists, medical records and admissions clerks, unit secretaries and others.

Shortly after the vote was announced, St. Joseph Hospital-Humboldt President David O’Brien issued a statement to staff and board members vowing to honor the employees' voice "and prepare to enter into good faith collective bargaining with the NUHW ..."

"With the vote behind us, it’s time to move forward … together," O'Brien said. "Yes, there were differences of opinion and strongly held views. That is to be expected. So it is especially important to remember and keep our focus on what unites us, and that is our deeply held commitment to provide safe, quality care and compassion to our patients and their families."

It was indeed not an easy battle, according to those on the service workers' side. The unionizing effort began in May 2013. One of the organizers, Kerry Sweeney, a labor and delivery nurse at the hospital for 12 years, said the effort was propelled by concerns similar to those of St. Joseph nurses. During informational picketing last year, some of the hospital’s 350 nurses, represented by the California Nurses Association, complained about staff reductions, especially among nurses’ aides and other positions that nurses rely on for help. The hospital’s chief nursing officer, Carol Reeder, countered at the time that the hospital would never compromise patients’ safety.

The CNA is affiliated with the NUHW.

Sweeney said another concern is service workers not having received a raise in four years — until they got one last year, which Sweeney said she suspects came in response to the union effort. 

The hospital administration, while posting union-effort informational literature around the hospital as required by the National Labor Relations Board, was opposed to it. Some managers wore “Vote No” shirts and put up flyers countering union claims. The hospital also started a web page called SJE Just Facts in January, after the labor board notified it there would be an election. The site has provided neutral information on the election process, as well as plenty of arguments against going union. Under “Facts about NUHW strikes,” for instance, the hospital’s website notes that NUHW-represented workers in California went on an average of 12 strikes in just two years, averaging “one strike every two months.”

Sweeney said the nurses, who unionized in 2001, have had four contracts in 12 years and not a single strike. The hospital has countered that that’s the CNA … not the NUHW, which in a flyer addressed to employees the hospital indicated has numerous problems including debt and “a poor record of negotiating contracts.”

Both sides have called each other's informational materials misleading or even false at times.

On Monday, Linda Cook, the hospital's vice president of Human Resources, responded to some of the arguments given by the union organizers as reasons for service workers to unionize. She said the hospital employs many nursing assistants in its medical-surgical and progressive care areas "to make sure, whenever possible, that our caregivers are not overworked." Sometimes, she said, a nursing assistant might be reassigned to sit by a patient who's confused or suicidal, and that sometimes there isn't another nursing assistant available to fill in elsewhere for that "sitter." Cook also said last year's wage increase "had nothing to do with the organizing efforts by NUHW, but was the result of the hospital ending fiscal year 2013 with a positive margin for the first time in years." She added that it had actually been less than three years since the previous raise. 

Next, the labor board has to certify the election results. That takes about a week.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

'Til Next Time, Tall Ships

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 3:44 PM

Lady Washington runs from Hawaiian Chieftain in Eureka's Inner Reach - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Lady Washington runs from Hawaiian Chieftain in Eureka's Inner Reach

The tall ships are gone, leaving humans bereft of slow-motion sea battles in Eureka's Inner Reach but bay birds rejoicing at the absence of sporadic cannon fire. 

Here are some scenes from Sunday's "battle" between the Hawaiian Chieftain and the Lady Washington.

But may we just say that whilst the Chieftain's seasoned captain kept his predominantly green crew busy hoisting sails and adjusting and readjusting them — and staggering at times under the learning curve — the small ship still managed to pop off several good wallops of smoky cannon blast at the stately Lady.  

May we also add, the Lady appeared to spend much of her unruffled time, far as we could tell, motoring about with her engine on and, when she did fire, aiming not at her worthy rival but at the pods of innocent gulls on the tip of Indian Island and, once, straight at the Wharfinger Building. Just an unbiased observation from one who was aboard the Chieftain ...

Aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain in Eureka - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Aboard the Hawaiian Chieftain in Eureka

Among the more seasoned crew of the Hawaiian Chieftain. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Among the more seasoned crew of the Hawaiian Chieftain.

Davey was learning the ropes on the Chieftain after having begun his sea duty aboard the Lady. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • Davey was learning the ropes on the Chieftain after having begun his sea duty aboard the Lady.

PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters

PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters

PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters

PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters

PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters

The passengers aboard the Chieftain were in no danger from the Lady. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • The passengers aboard the Chieftain were in no danger from the Lady.

The Lady Washington in Eureka. - PHOTO BY HEIDI WALTERS
  • Photo by Heidi Walters
  • The Lady Washington in Eureka.



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Updated: Man Wanted for Questioning in Possible SoHum Homicide

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Benjamin Jasper Carter
  • Benjamin Jasper Carter
The Humboldt County Sheriff's Office has identified the victim of an apparent homicide in Southern Humboldt as 36-year-old Zackery Jacob Chapman, of Redway.

Meanwhile, a suspect in the case, 33-year-old Benjamin Jasper Carter, remains at large, according to Sheriff's Office Lt. Wayne Hanson. The Sheriff's Office launched its investigation after someone called 911 to report finding the Chapman's body, dead of an apparent gunshot wound, in the water off Garberville's Kimtu Road.

In a press release, the Sheriff's Office says detectives found a "homicide scene" on a piece of property off Conic Creek near Garberville, with a trailer that had been burnt in what they deem "an attempt to conceal evidence." Carter's wife, 41-year-old Melinda Elaine Carter, was arrested Friday in Redway on suspicion of conspiracy, being an accessory to homicide, auto theft and arson. 

For more information, see the full press release from the Sheriff's Office and the initial post below:

UPDATE

On 04-18-2014 at about 10:30pm, Humboldt County Sheriff Office Detectives arrested Melinda Elaine Carter age 41 for conspiracy and accessory to a homicide, auto theft and arson. Melinda Carter was transported to the Humboldt County Correctional Facility in Eureka where her bail was set at $750,000 dollars. Detectives located Melinda Carter in a motel room at the Brass Rail Motel in Redway where they had served a search warrant related to the homicide investigation. Melinda Carter is the wife of the suspect, Benjamin Jasper Carter age 33, who has not been arrested yet in connection of the homicide.

On 04-19-2014 at about 12:30pm, a citizen dialed 9-1-1 after locating a deceased male body just off Kimtu Road, Garberville. The body was in the water near the river bank. Sheriff’s Office Detectives, who were in the area immediately responded to the scene. Sheriff’s Offices Detectives assisted by the California Department of Justice processed the crime scene. The Humboldt County Coroner Office responded to the scene to take possession of the body.

The male victim was identified by the Coroner’s Office as Zackery Jacob Chapman age 36 from Redway. Chapman appears to have died from the result of a gunshot wound. An Autopsy is scheduled for later this week.

On 04-19-2014 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office along with Humboldt County Arson Task Force and the California Department of Justice processed the homicide scene, which was located on a piece of property off Conic Creek, Garberville. A trailer on the property had been burned down after the homicide in an attempt to conceal evidence where the homicide occurred.

The Sheriff’s Office is advising the public if they see the suspect Benjamin Jasper Carter to immediately contact law enforcement and do not approach Carter, who is considered armed and dangerous. They are being advised to dial 9-1-1.

If anyone has information on this homicide they are encouraged to call Investigator Cheryl Franco at 707-268-3644 or the Sheriff’s Office at 707-445-7251. 


Previously:
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office is searching for 33-year-old Benjamin Jasper Carter to question him about a possible homicide in Southern Humboldt.

The Sheriff’s Office sent out a press release this morning saying it received information Friday “regarding a possible homicide involving a firearm that occurred in the Southern Humboldt area” and is consequently searching for Carter. The release does not indicate when the possible homicide occurred, or where.

Humboldt County Coroner Dave Parris confirmed Saturday afternoon that a deputy corner from his office is on scene somewhere outside of Garberville, but said he didn’t have any further information.

Carter, described as standing 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighing 180 pounds with brown hair and blue eyes with an array of tattoos, is believed to be armed and dangerous. “If seen, do not approach and contact law enforcement,” the release states.

Check out the full press release below for information about Carter’s truck.

The following is a press release from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


On 04/18/2014 the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received information regarding a possible homicide involving a firearm that occurred in the Southern Humboldt area. The Sheriff’s Office is currently investigating this allegation with the assistance from the District Attorney Investigator’s Office, Department of Justice (DOJ), Arson Task Force, and the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

Benjamin Jasper Carter is wanted for questioning in association to this investigation. Carter is described to be a white male, age 33, 6’3”, 180 lbs, brown hair, and blue eyes. Carter’s head may be shaved bald and he may have a goatee and mustache. Carter has multiple tattoos on his chest, back, arms, legs, and neck. Carter is associated with a black GMC truck, CA license 6R68046. The truck has a blue tailgate with an Oakland Raiders design and front end damage. Carter is believed to be armed and dangerous. If seen, do not approach and contact law enforcement.

Anyone with information for the Sheriff’s 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.

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Coroner Identifies Motorcycle Crash Victim

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 1:44 PM

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The Humboldt County Coroner’s Office has identified the man killed in a Eureka motorcycle accident early Sunday morning as 26-year-old Tommy Ricardo Ruiz.

The Eureka resident was killed at about 12:35 a.m. Sunday after falling off his bike in the 1000 block of Broadway while traveling at a high rate of speed. According to a Eureka Police Department press release, Ruiz was speeding north on Broadway, travelling at speeds in excess of 80 mph, when he passed an EPD officer in a patrol car, who was also traveling northbound. According to the release, the officer did not turn on his lights and sirens to initiate a pursuit, concerned it would only “prompt the rider to further increase his speed.”

Instead, the officer reported the speeding motorcyclist to dispatch and continued northbound on Broadway, where he ultimately saw Ruiz fall from his bike and strike a raised curb at the intersection of West Grant Street and Broadway. Ruiz’s bike continued north until it smashed through a closed garage door in the 900 block of Broadway.

Humboldt County Deputy Coroner Roy Horton said Ruiz has family in the area and worked at Mickey’s Quality Cars in McKinleyville. Horton said officials are still investigating the possibility that alcohol played a role in the crash.

The following is a press release from the Eureka Police Department:

On April 20, 2014, at approximately 12:35 AM, a Eureka Police Department officer on patrol was driving northbound in the #2 lane of Broadway Street just north of Wabash Avenue when he was passed by a blue and white Honda motorcycle traveling at a high rate of speed in the #1 lane of northbound Broadway Street. The officer estimated the motorcycle was travelling in excess of 80 MPH as it entered the 30 MPH zone there.

The officer broadcast his observations of the reckless motorcyclist to Dispatch but did not take any enforcement action out of concern it would only prompt the rider to further increase his speed. As the officer continued driving northbound, he saw the rider lose control of the motorcycle at around the 1000 block of Broadway. The rider fell off his motorcycle and struck the raised curb at West Grant Street and Broadway. The motorcycle continued north and collided with a closed garage door at 939 Broadway, breaking through the door. The rider suffered fatal injuries from his collision with the curb and was pronounced dead at the scene. EPD Traffic Unit officers were called to the scene and assumed the investigation. Members of the Eureka Volunteer Patrol (EVP) also responded to assist with traffic control and scene security.

The name of the motorcyclist is being withheld at this time pending notification of his family.

Any witnesses to the collision are asked to call Senior Traffic Officer Tim Jones at (707) 441-4109. Reference case #3T14-240.

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