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The desert air was crisp and sharp on the morning of February 3rd, 1980, but the cacti
and scrub
brush that peppered the bleak flatland near Lozen, Arizona didn't mind the weather.
Winter, spring,
summer, fall, it was all the same to these hardy inhabitants of the desert.
It was a cloudless day. A beat-up Pinto station wagon wove erratically down Highway
60, a
newly constructed four-lane highway. Separated by 100 yards of sagebrush, the new
highway ran
parallel to old Highway 58, a two-lane road that was a throw-back to the Route 66 days.
Highway 58
had served earlier, more gentle generations of drivers, and it was because of nostalgia that
many locals
had urged the City Council to let the old highway stand and not tear it down. The Council
had agreed,
at least for the time-being, and even though 58 was an eye sore, it was still there, cracks
and all with
grass sprouting through the crumbling asphalt.
But Marvin Niebold didn't care about all that. He was nursing a broken heart because his
of 40 years had left him and moved out, leaving Marvin with the reason for her departure;
a huge
drinking problem.
Niebold, a car salesman, was slumped over, bleary-eyed, his potbelly caressing the
wheel. He was drunk and barely awake. Marvin had spent the night boozing in a road-
side bar a few
miles down the highway to the south and was due at work in two hours.
A local radio program featuring radio host Blake Burdett was blaring loudly. Host
Burdett had
just finished playing a song. "That was Simon and Garfunkel's gorgeous 'Bridge Over
Water' .... it's 7 a.m., an' speakin' of troubled waters, this sports dome thing's gettin' out-a-
hand ... my
wife Lanie and I are hardly speakin,' she's a Pro-Domer, I'm a no-Domer. I think it'll
bankrupt the
county but Lanie doesn't care about that, all she wants is to get those pro football players
here with
their bulgin' muscles an' multi-million dollar swaggers. I suggested she get a lobotomy,
she suggested I
jump off the roof. Ouch!"
Niebold was clutching the steering wheel tightly. He'd slowed to a speed of 40 miles an