Orozco's Heroics No Surprise


Listening to Payson High School junior Mike Orozco relive the harrowing details of his near-death experience on the Beeline Highway sent chills tingling down my spine.

PHS teacher Dennis Pirch had the same reaction when he listened to the 17-year-old tell his social studies class about the gasoline tanker accident that claimed the life of a 38-year-old Peoria man.

The story of how Mike went to the aid of a 19-year old woman whose automobile was engulfed in flames from the accident was told on at least two-state wide television stations and on the front page of the May 9 edition of the Payson Roundup.

Mike, a member of the Longhorn track team, was on his way to Peoria to retrieve a vaulting pole that had been mistakenly taken by a Sunrise Mountain coach after a track meet held last week.

Mike asked Coach Chuck Hardt for permission to retrieve the pole, but the coach told him the permission would have to come from his parents.

After Mike got the okay, he headed down the Beeline unaware that danger awaited him at the bottom of Slate Creek.

At track practice that afternoon, Hardt learned of the accident and immediately recalled that Mike was going to be on the highway at about that time.

"I just thought to myself, ‘Oh, I hope he's not in it,'" Hardt said.

If there was anything good to come out of the horrible accident, it was that the cool-headed teenager was around to help pull Genice Morris from the burning car.

While Mike and the car's driver, Chuck Slivers, struggled to remove Morris, flames and smoke almost overcame all three.

In reliving the accident, Mike said everything happened very fast but there were moments when he thought his life was about to end.

It seemed to him, he said, "like the whole canyon was on fire, every thing was one big blaze."

All of us in the Payson School District who have taught or coached Mike are very proud, but not surprised, by his gallant response to this life threatening situation.

In the classroom and on the playing field, whether it is soccer or track and field, he's a calm, no-nonsense teenager with a refreshingly shy nature.

Nice job, Mike.

Taxpayers will take hit

It appears the Arizona Cardinals lawsuit that asks for millions of dollars from Arizona State University will reach the courts sometime this summer.

The Cards are suing ASU for revenues from Sun Devil stadium advertising that team lawyers are saying are due the professional football team. ASU officials were able to sell advertising space in the stadium, but Cardinal salespersons were never successful in their efforts to attract sponsors.

Let's see, the Cards are asking for revenue from advertising they didn't sell.

That's an interesting business approach.

Since the Cardinals arrived in Arizona from their former digs in St. Louis, the team has benefited from public funding.

Just nine days after Maricopa County voters approved a $355 million publicly financed stadium for the Cardinals, they sued ASU for the $21 million.

Because ASU is financed by taxpayers, the Cards are basically bringing suit against the very people who approved their stadium and backed the team financially since 1988.

The bottom line is that if the Cards win the lawsuit, it's the taxpayers who will eventually pay the price of Bidwell gluttony.

In the summer of 1988, my wife and I boarded an airliner at Lambert Field in St. Louis for a return flight to Phoenix. We had just spent a week visiting her family in Barry, Ill.

An older African-American woman was sitting next to me reading the sports section of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She introduced herself as a St. Louis native and a huge fan of the Cardinals baseball team.

In a conversation we struck up, I asked her if she knew the football Cardinals had flown the Missouri coup to move to Arizona.

I don't recall her response exactly, but it was a question along the lines of "How long do you think people in Arizona can tolerate the Bidwells?"

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