Shelter Cove GM Philip Young’s Resigns After Assault Allegations; Other Residents Allege Pattern of Anger Issues
Shelter Cove resident Rex Olander said that the day before Young resigned, Young punched Olander knocking him to the ground in a surprise assault outside the District’s office just after lunch on December 21.
According to Olander, the RID Board had its regular meeting that morning. For background, the RID owns a parcel adjacent to one owned by Olander on Humboldt Loop Road near Black Sands Beach. Olander does not live on the parcel and cannot view it from his home.
RID has done some improvements to a culvert on their access road to a pump station on Humboldt Creek below the parcel neighboring Olander’s. At the RID Board meeting on the 21st, Young was reporting on the project and invited the public to take a look. When a member of the public asked for directions, the address was given and Young noted, as a landmark, a very large No Trespassing sign on Olander’s neighboring property. Young said the No Trespassing sign could be ignored.
Olander said his girlfriend was at the meeting and came to tell Olander about Young’s words. According to Olander, he has a lot of problems with people dumping trash and abandoned vehicles on that property and any possible suggestion RID was saying the public is welcome there distressed him. He immediately went down to address the matter with Young.
Former RID General Manager Philip Young told us he did invite people to look at the work done on the RID property. Young said he was proud of the work RID staff accomplished and wanted people to see it. But, he said, the remark about disregarding the No Trespassing sign was a joke and that the audience laughed. He stated, “There was no malice intended.” Young explained that crossing Olander’s property is not necessary to access the culvert site, and the sign was mentioned as a visible landmark.
While the access road down to the pump station does cross Olander’s property, pedestrians can walk across the RID lot to the access road.On the 21st, Olander told us he went into the RID office before lunch to speak with Young, but had to wait through the lunch hour to speak with him. Olander sat outside in his vehicle and after lunch was approaching the door to the RID office when Young came out to meet him.
Olander said the conversation became combative almost immediately. Olander described the incident as a “junior high level encounter complete with name calling.”
Olander explained he had never spoken to RID or Young about trespassing problems previous to this day. When asked why the conversation got heated so quickly, Olander said he had told the RID staff he was angry about the invitation to trespass when he originally asked for Young before the lunch hour began.
At some point in the incident outside the RID office that day, Olander said Young walked away for a moment and then beckoned Olander to him at the side of the building. Olander said, “Going over there was my first mistake.” Once on the side of the building, where Olander contends there are no security cameras, Young allegedly challenged Olander to a fight.
Olander said, “When I got over there, he threw off his glasses and doubled up his fists and told me to take my glasses off.” Olander stated, “He’s half my age and twice my size.”
Olander said he declined to fight but when he moved to leave the situation, “Young punched me three times very fast.” He says this knocked him to the ground and caused his glasses to fall off. While he was feeling around for his glasses, Young stepped on his hand and injured his thumb. He reports his thumb being the most painful part of his injuries “except for my pride. I didn’t see that coming.” However, Olander also said his glasses scraped his face causing him to bleed.
Philip Young declined to comment on the incident with Olander directly. Young said, “I don’t want to talk about that, but there is security camera footage and people can watch that if they are interested in what happened.” And, Young said, “He came to the office of a public official and created the situation. I didn’t go to his house.”
Olander said the Sheriff was summoned and while speaking with the deputy, “I made my second big mistake.” When the deputy asked if he wanted Young arrested, Olander said, “I told them I didn’t want him in jail for Christmas.” Olander explained, “I didn’t mean I didn’t want to press charges,” but that is how it was interpreted by the deputy. Olander said he was alerted to this by the Lost Coast Outpost who asked him for comment on their story.
With the holidays, Olander reports having had difficulty contacting Sheriff’s Deputy Del Biaggio who is assigned to the case. Olander said the Humboldt County District Attorney has not received the case as of Friday, January 5, but he said, the Garberville substation deputies did report sending deputies to RID to pick up the security camera footage to forward with the report.
Board President Susan Fox would not comment on the incident beyond saying the Board has accepted Young’s resignation. She also said that the Board will determine how to proceed at their next meeting on January 5.
Olander explained he feels the Board has a share of the responsibility for his assault because the Board has known for some time that Young’s behavior is erratic. Olander said after his Facebook post, “My phone rang off the hook” with people calling to tell their own stories of troublesome encounters with Young. Olander said there is a pattern of “unstable behavior” that would appear to predict a violent encounter was coming.
Two residents went on record with their experiences. Roy McKenna said his experience occurred in September of 2016, or as he said “68 weeks and 3 days ago.” McKenna alleges the incident was traumatic and he thinks about it every day.
McKenna said that he and his wife were driving toward the 101 on the Briceland Road at Huckleberry Hill where the speed limit is 25 mph. McKenna explained that he saw a RID truck come up on him very quickly and then “tailgated me so closely I couldn’t even see his headlights” in his rear view mirror. Then he said that the truck passed him on a turn and then immediately came to a complete stop in the middle of the road. McKenna said he and his wife felt their lives were in danger because they were in a “blind turn” and would surely be rear-ended if someone came around the corner.
McKenna alleged that Philip Young was the driver, that Young got out of the RID truck and came back to inform McKenna that it is customary for slower drivers to use turnouts and allow faster drivers to proceed. McKenna said the conversation was loud and angry.
McKenna reported it to the CHP, but did not specifically say he wanted to press charges. After Olander’s experience, McKenna explained he called CHP to get a copy of his report. At that time, McKenna learned a police report had not been written and that the incident had been recorded as a report of reckless driving.
Speaking with CHP Sgt McKenless for this story, she said that if the public want a police report written, they need to say so clearly. Sgt. McKenless explains, procedurally, if an incident is no longer ongoing, and there is no collision, they will often not make an actual report unless specifically asked to do so.
In addition to McKenna’s alleged experience, Betty Etter reported an encounter from the spring of 2014. When she received her April bill and newsletter, she was upset by the General Manager’s suggestion that residents use herbicides to remove noxious invasive plants. Etter, an avid gardener and plant enthusiast, said she gathered materials to show Young that one species he mentioned is actually native and was long used by Native Americans. She also wanted to dissuade him from recommending herbicide use in marshy areas where the plant, Cowslip Turnip, grows.
Etter said Young became enraged by her feedback when she went to his office. She described him as slamming his two hands on the desk in front of her and ordering her out of the office in a loud voice. She related the incident to the RID Board of Directors in a public board meeting afterward.
Young said working with the public in Shelter Cove has been extremely challenging and “the thought of leaving the job has been with me for some time.” Young also put some blame for the job’s stresses on the RID Board. He recommended the Board of Directors develop a policy for dispute resolution that future managers can follow and implement.
Young does remember the incident on the Briceland Road with Mr. McKenna. Young said that McKenna and his wife previously worked for RID, knew who he was, and were intentionally driving slowly and refusing to pull over. Young was not asked about the incident with Betty Etter.