Campus Community Remembers Local Legend

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by Kris Nagel and Morgan Hancock

Ricky Smith, a longtime Arcata community member, was the victim of a deadly assault Wednesday, February 2. The community has spent the last week remembering Smith’s legacy. Known for his big smiles and peace-loving attitude, Smith regularly took to the corner of 17th and G Streets where the assault took place.

Photo by Morgan Hancock | Community members gather at the corner of G St and 17th St.

Community members set up a memorial where Smith would spend his days playing songs for passersby. In the days since, the corner has seen people stopping by to share stories of the well-known busker and leave gifts around framed photos.

Reports say that Smith was killed in a confrontation near the 17th Street footbridge around 5:30 p.m. Although CPR was attempted by two bystanders, he was unresponsive when police arrived on scene. Life saving efforts continued but Smith was pronounced dead shortly after being transported to Mad River Hospital.

Smith was confirmed dead by Arcata Police the following morning. A 50-year-old Arcata resident was arrested at the scene and taken into custody and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility for murder according to the Thursday press release.

Photo by Kris Nagel | Arcata resident Ricky Smith plays his guitar on the corner of 17th St and G St on April 28, 2021.

Smith’s daughter, Sara Smith, has set up a Facebook page for people to share memories of her father. A recent post on the page from Sara shows a note Ricky had made for himself, “Your attitude almost always determines your altitude in life.”

Ricky Smith was known best for his kind smile, passionate songs, and place in the community reminding us to be good to one another. Though some memories are brighter than others, this moment of loss has brought many in the community to grieve the corner left vacant in Ricky’s absence.

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