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Thinking of Richie



Thank you Thadeus Greenson for the piece honoring the life and death of Richard Frederick Tis'mil Estrada ("'System Failure,'" Oct. 15). I've often wondered about the young man who wielded a machete in that tragic incident last year.

Richie's story touched my heart, and I feel deeply saddened for his lost life, his family's loss, and for the officer who was brutally injured, and his family's suffering in the aftermath of the occurrence.

I feel deep sorrow for Richie's mother Leanne. It must be such a hard thing, looking back on having moved her son and family to Hoopa from LA to get out of the city and all its harshness. And to have her son growing up such a good-hearted kid, doing well in school, and then trying to deal with his debilitating accident and seeming sudden onset of bipolar disorder. How hard it must have been for her to reach out for help to psychiatrists, and at every turn, no one was there to help.

Our county is fortunate to have psychotherapists like Gerald Drucker to turn to for help. If only Richie could have had more counseling, a quick and decent referral to a psychiatrist for medication, and perhaps a more supportive environment in and around Hoopa for kids with mental difficulties and disorders. But it was not meant to be.

As Samhain/Dio des los Muertos approaches, and the veil between the seen and unseen worlds draws thin, may Richie's dearly departed ancestors give forth their undying love and messages of comfort to his family. Even though I never knew Richie, I feel the loss of him in our community, and have added his photograph to my ofrenda. His spirit lives on, and the ancestors' voices can still be heard.

Tina Dawson, Arcata


Until reading your "System Failure" story, all I'd known was a "crazy guy" went after a cop with a machete. Your report is the sort of excellent journalism that can make a real difference in society — pointing out the complications of a situation, showing how multiple problems can all contribute to a horrific outcome, noting where public responsibilities were not met, exploring the tragedy of a family trying to deal with mental illness in a community whose investment in health and human services, for whatever reasons, has clearly not brought the needed results.

My heart goes out to the Estrada family who lost a child, and to Officer Gray — sent to an accident scene without the information he needed to do his job as safely as possible. When citizens ask someone to risk their lives for us, we owe them leadership that minimizes their risks.

Mitch Trachtenberg, Trinidad

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