A man working as a watchman at the San Juan Ridge Mine was arrested on drug charges after he allegedly called 911 while hallucinating, claiming there was a dead man on the property.
The man, identified as Gerald Charles Neal, 60, of Rough and Ready, called just before 10 a.m. Thursday to report a man hurt in the forest, according to dispatch reports. He then said a woman assaulted a man, and that there might be a dead man who fell off a cliff after fighting with the woman the night before.
A Nevada County Sheriff’s deputy responded to the property in the 16000 block of Grizzly Hill Road, said Sheriff Keith Royal.
But Neal’s account was “so farfetched,” the deputy suspected he was under the influence of a controlled substance, Royal said.
Neal reportedly admitted to using methamphetamine and that he was “probably” hallucinating.
“He had been seeing and hearing things all morning long,” Royal said.
Neal also reportedly admitted to having drugs in his truck, and suspected meth was found.
He was booked into county jail on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance and being under the influence of a controlled substance and was being held in lieu of $11,000 bail.
San Juan Mining Corporation CEO Tim Callaway confirmed that Neal had been a watchman on the property, living in a trailer, but said he had been terminated immediately.
“We have zero tolerance, and I mean zero, for drugs and alcohol on the property,” Callaway said.
“This was out of the blue,” he said of Neal’s behavior. “He’s always been harmless. He’s very quiet.”
Callaway said the Ridge in general has an “epidemic” drug problem, adding, “We’re not exempt from that.”
Other former and current employees at the mine site have had criminal issues. A former handyman, Clyde Courtney, recently pleaded no contest to being a felon in possession of ammunition and is set to be sentenced Oct. 25. According to Callaway, he had been terminated from the mine and was not living on the property at the time of the incident that led to his 2012 arrest.
Clyde Courtney’s brother, Richard Courtney, a watchman at the site, is a convicted sex offender for a 1995 offense. Callaway said that he has known him for more than a decade and feels comfortable with his presence on the remote parcel.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.