Body Found In Shay Park – September 24, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

The segment of Jolly Giant Creek where the body was discovered. KLH | Eye

Kevin L. Hoover

Eye Editor

ALLIANCE ROAD – On the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 23, a 41-year-old male was found dead in Jolly Giant Creek at Shay Park.

Police Chief Tom Chapman said the man had been dead for several days.  Police found no obvious signs of foul play or trauma, and no cause of death has ben determined.

An autopsy has been scheduled for next week. The man’s identity is being withheld pending notification of family.

The decedent was discovered by citizens, who called police. The body was located in a densely overgrown pocket of the slow-moving waters of the creek. Police cleared a swath of overgrown blackberry and Himalaya berry vines to access the creek and retrieve the body.

A problematic paradise

A campsite several minutes' walk away from the location of the body. KLH | Eye

Shay Park, located on the site of the former Twin Parks Lumber Mill, was restored beginning in the 1990s. Today it is a lush, densely wooded park featuring meandering trails and charming footbridges. Regular and repeated volunteer workdays plus improvements by the City have helped cultivate the former industrial site into a riparian paradise.

It is heavily frequented by students from neighboring Arcata High School, plus naturalists and area residents.

But, like many urban/natural interface areas, there are signs of improper use and habitation. A heap of compost, including eggs and biodegradable egg cartons rots just off a trail near Foster Avenue. Illegal campers and boozers have left their marks as well.

Rocks, bridges, a creek culvert and even trees are defaced with graffiti. Spent husks of alcohol containers and food wrappers dot the trails, increasing in density near several popular camping spots.

Though frequently cleaned up by City personnel and volunteers, a walk around the park Friday turned up several trash-infested campsites, one of which the decedent, believed to be a traveler, may have occupied. One alder next to a heavily-used campsite sports a deeply-carved swastika, with the word “CRITTER” written above it.

About 150 feet from the location where the body was found, an elevated clearing is strewn with Jameson’s Whiskey bottles and discarded clothing, plus an unopened bag of beans and other debris. This appears to be more of a social area than campsite.

A nearby recreation hotspot. KLH | Eye

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