What started as a gesture of kindness by good Samaritans became an odd tale of an apparently violent start to the new year.
Around 2 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1, Mr. and Mrs. Roy Tolby were on their way back to Payson from visiting friends on top of the Rim and came across a man lying on the road. He was on the white line on the south side of Highway 260, about two miles from the Diamond Point restaurant.
The man was raising his arms, apparently trying to flag down help.
The Tolbys went to the nearest phone and called 911, then returned to the man.
He reportedly told them he had been beaten up by a group of boys and hit in the head with a rock. His mouth was filled with rocks and gravel and his face torn up. He had no coat and was wearing a sleeveless shirt.
"We measured the distance, it was a good mile-and-a-half from the restaurant. There is no way he could have walked that far. He didn't even have a coat, my husband had to give him a thick sweatshirt to wear," Marjorie Tolby said.
Capt. John Wisner of the Diamond Star Fire Department said the victim, Alfonse Johnson, 20, said he needed a ride to Show Low and was in a car with a group of people who apparently decided they did not want to give him a ride. Johnson told the emergency personnel the people in the car beat him up and threw him out of the car.
Wisner said Johnson refused medical treatment and was given a ride back to Payson by the Department of Public Safety, so he could look for a friend he had been celebrating with, but lost track of during the course of the evening.
Down the road
Johnson wasn't the only man to wind up in the road in the Star Valley area.
The Gila County Sheriff's Department was contacted by a clerk at a Star Valley convenience store around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1.
The clerk reported a verbal domestic violence situation in the store's parking lot between a man and a woman. The woman told the man to get out of the vehicle. When he did, she started to drive off, but he caught hold of the vehicle, but fell off as the driver turned onto the highway.
The clerk reported the woman stopped the vehicle, the man climbed back inside and grabbed her by the hair.
The sheriff's deputy responding to the call made contact with the vehicle at the Majestic Mountain Inn, according to a spokesman in the sheriff's office.
The woman, Traci White, was driving with a suspended license and canceled insurance. She and the man, Matthew Byrum, were both charged with assault-domestic violence, the sheriff's spokesman said.
In other law enforcement activity over the New Year's holiday, the Payson Police Department had only one arrest for driving under the influence, according to Lt. Don. Engler.
Ann Parker, 46, was charged with DUI following an accident at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 1 in the 800 block of North Madison.
"It is pretty unusual to have only a single DUI arrest," Engler said.
He said there were a lot of traffic stops, but the vehicles either had a designated driver or the operator had not been drinking at all.
Engler said the police department had extra patrols out and so did the Department of Public Safety. The DPS DUI report was not available at press time.