"When a helicopter flies over Cedar Valley, residents tend to assume it’s searching for illegal pot operations in the nearby forest. That’s what Curry County neighbors John Burns and Kathyrn Rickard thought when they heard the blades whirring over their rural homes. They didn’t think the helicopter flying overhead would be raining toxic chemicals upon their homes, their farms and their bodies.
Rickard was inside studying when she heard the chopper. Shortly after, she walked out on her deck to give her eyes a break from her computer screen, and “instantly, I was not feeling good.” She smelled something heavy and oily, she says. Her chest hurt. She went back inside and tried to continue with her work. She got tired, had a severe headache and felt nauseous with a burning nose and throat. Her husband, Eric, came home and worked outside beneath the deck for a while and then he too came inside and complained of feeling sick. The family’s dogs, which had been outside during the spray, were eating grass and vomiting and wouldn’t eat dinner.
It took a couple days for Burns, Rickard and other neighbors to realize they were all sickened by what had fallen from the helicopter, which was spraying pesticides on private forests surrounding Cedar Valley. Eric Rickard’s vision was affected. Kathyrn Rickard now needs surgery for a chronic sinus infection that started after the exposure. One of her dogs is now dying, she says. She went to the county health clinic and was told to call the Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA). Soon she and other Curry County residents found themselves down a rabbit hole of government agencies and given no information on what they were sprayed with or how to stop it from happening again."