Driver Responsible For Three Deaths Was Drunk


The driver who killed three members of a Rim Country family was legally drunk at the time his SUV collided with a Chevrolet Tahoe driven by David Goddard of Payson.

An Arizona Department of Public Safety report obtained by the Payson Roundup shows that a blood specimen taken from Rigoberto Arrazola was .080 percent alcohol, or the exact legal minimum needed to charge a driver with driving impaired.

Goddard has been told, however, the blood alcohol contest (BAC) was probably much higher at the time of the accident, but in the length of time it took to obtain a search warrant to draw blood from Arrazola, the alcohol concentration dropped significantly.

Payson Police Chief Gordon Gartner confirmed that about a three-hour wait, as was the situation with Arrazola, would decidedly lower the BAC of a suspect.

DPS Sgt. Dennis Isaacson said that alcohol in the human body dissipates at a rate of .015 percent per hour.

Which means, if Arrazola's blood specimen was not taken until three hours after the accident, his BAC was actually .125 when the collision occurred about 7:30 p.m.

Arrazola was jailed after the July 24 accident and is being held in Maricopa County Fourth Avenue Jail on a $180,000 bond.

He is slated to appear at a trial management conference at 8:30 a.m. Dec. 5 in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix.

At the conference, a judge will decide if both sides are prepared and ready to proceed to trial.

"The judge has to consider any motions to continue if the defense isn't ready to go," Maricopa County Attorney's Office spokesman Bill Fitzgerald said.

"If either of the parties are in another trial, the court will usually grant a short recess."

The trial is tentatively scheduled to begin Dec. 12 in Superior Court.

Arrazola, 31, of Phoenix, pleaded not guilty to three charges of manslaughter, two counts of aggravated assault and four counts of endangerment.

The charges against him are Class 2 felonies punishable by from 21 to 35 years imprisonment on each count.

DPS reports show the accident happened when Arrazola, returning from an outing at Saguaro Lake, drove through the intersection at Bush and Beeline highways.

Police reports show Goddard's Tahoe, after being struck by Arrazola's SUV, skidded into the median and overturned near the northbound lanes.

Goddard and his family were returning to Payson following a shopping trip in the Valley.

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

His son, William Goddard, 13, was transported to St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix where he later died.

Goddard and his daughter, Alexandrea, 12, were treated at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix and discharged a day later.

Arrazola was not injured in the accident.

Goddard is unsure whether he will be called upon to testify at the upcoming trial.

"I have not been asked yet," he said. "The prosecution's assistant indicated they may have sufficient evidence and eyewitnesses, where my testimony may not be required. Of course, that could change at any time."

Last summer Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas announced a campaign that will almost ensure that suspects like Arrazola stand trial.

His new policy cited 12 violent crimes for which defendants will not be allowed to plead guilty to lesser offenses. Arrazola's charges of manslaughter and aggravated assault with a weapon are among Thomas' "Violent Crime -- Hard Time" plan.

Under Thomas' administration, those charges are ineligible for plea bargaining.

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