Pacific Lumber Co. owner Charles Hurwitz had a bumpy arrival in Humboldt County after apparently trying to enter a secure gate at the Arcata/Eureka Airport Sunday night and being placed in handcuffs briefly.
Hurwitz arrived from Houston, Texas, on a private Learjet chartered by Cockrell Resources Inc. at about 7 p.m. At about 7:30 p.m., a United Airlines employee called a Humboldt County sheriff s deputy stationed at the airport when four men tried to enter the commercial passenger gate instead of the gate for private air travelers.
One of the men became verbally uncooperative, according to a police report, and the deputy briefly placed him in handcuffs.
Sheriff s spokeswoman Brenda Godsey said she could not release the names of the men, since they weren t cited. The report will go to District Attorney Paul Gallegos.
Several sources confirmed that the man who got angry at being redirected to the proper gate and was handcuffed was Hurwitz, the controversial chief executive officer of Maxxam Inc., the parent company of the recently bankrupt Palco. Maxxam is headquartered in Houston.
It may be up to airport management to recommend that charges be pressed. Airport manager Jacqueline Hulsey said she had not read the report yet to make a determination. But she said that any security breach is reported to the U.S. Transportation Security Administration.
Hulsey said it is the first time in 18 months that the airport has had such an incident. She said the airport, despite its small size, is under the same security requirements as all commercial airports.
The airport has made efforts to put up signs and signals to make sure incidents like this don t happen, she said. Everybody gets treated the same, Hulsey said.
Pacific Lumber Co. spokeswoman Andrea Arnot said the episode was a misunderstanding. There was some confusion over which door the passengers were supposed to use, Arnot said.
Asked why Hurwitz was in town, she said she didn t know the specifics and didn t know how long Hurwitz was to be in the area.
The charter jet left Arcata/Eureka Airport Monday night, according to flight records.
Palco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Corpus Christi, Texas, last month, in an effort to relieve its massive debt while staying up and running. Creditors, California state agencies and the U.S. Trustee's Office have asked a Texas bankruptcy judge to move the case to Oakland, since Palco s subsidiaries and nearly all of its creditors, its timberland, the lion s share of its vendors and nearly every employee are located in California.
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