Driver Who Killed Three Payson Residents Charged With Murder

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The driver who killed three members of a Payson family will appear at a preliminary hearing Aug. 8 in the Phoenix Regional Court Center.

Rigoberto C. Arrazola, 31, of Phoenix, faces three charges of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault, four counts of endangerment and three counts of second-degree murder.

He is currently being held on a $360,000 bond in Maricopa County Lower Buckeye jail.

Following the accident, which occurred about 7:30 p.m., July 24, Department of Public Safety officers obtained a search warrant to draw blood from Arrazola. The results of those tests are not available until later next week.

According to police reports, the accident happened when Arrazola, returning from an outing at Saguaro Lake, drove through an intersection into the northbound lanes of the Beeline Highway.

His Lincoln Navigator clipped the Chevrolet Tahoe driven by David M. Goddard, 39, of Payson.

Goddard said he remembers trying to avoid a collision, but after being struck, he lost control of his vehicle, which overturned several times.

Police reports said Goddard's Tahoe skidded into the median, and overturned in the northbound lane.

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Pernilla Goddard

Goddard's wife, Pernilla Goddard, 39, and stepson, Simon Pallin Bergland, 14, were killed instantly.

Son William Goddard, 13, was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix where he died about 11:30 p.m.

Goddard and his daughter, Alexandrea, 12, were taken to Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix and discharged two days later.

Town councilor Tim Fruth came upon the accident. He and his family, also were returning to Payson from the Valley.

"It was the most horrific scene we have ever witnessed," Fruth said. "It's such a tragedy, almost an entire family was wiped out by a senseless, callous act."

Goddard, who works for the California-based technology company Novariant, said he and his family recently moved to Payson from Colorado.

"We had just closed (escrow) on our house July 1," he said. "We wanted a new start in life, but got kind of shortchanged."

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving statistics, someone dies in an alcohol-related traffic accident every half hour.

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William Goddard and Simon Bergland

MADD National President Glynn R. Birch said that statistic is unacceptable.

"Highly publicized checkpoints should go a long way in keeping the public from getting behind the wheel impaired," she said. "(Drunken driving deaths are) preventable, and yet MADD served more than 31,000 victims/ survivors last year."

Last weekend, the Payson Police Department and the Department of Public Safety set up a sobriety checkpoint in Star Valley. Out of 1,032 cars stopped, seven arrests were made.

Court records show Arrazola has had two other clashes with the law in Arizona. In 2001, he pleaded guilty to driving without a valid license and in 2004, he pleaded guilty to a charge of disorderly conduct.

Remembering the family

A memorial service for Pernilla, William and Simon will be held at 1 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, East Aero Drive and Ponderosa Street.

A luncheon will follow.

Donations can be made to a 501 (c) nonprofit account established to assist with the education expenses of Alexandrea Goddard, who survived the accident.

Checks should be made payable to: Payson Elks (BPOE 2154) c/o Alexandrea K. Goddard, Account # 3214948444 and mailed to: Wells Fargo Bank, 115 E. Highway 260, Payson, AZ 85541.

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