Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bronco Buster a Year Ago, O.J.'S Dash Was TV Drama

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Bronco Buster a Year Ago, O.J.'S Dash Was TV Drama

Article excerpt

It was the chase seen around the world.

People watched, whether they were at home, out on the town, or summer vacationing in New Jersey, Mexico or Israel.

O.J. Simpson's ride to evade arrest on murder charges on June 17, 1994, did not have the historic impact of John F. Kennedy's assassination or the Challenger explosion, but it shared a sense of importance: Most people can remember where they were when it happened.

Rachel Auerbach of Plantation, Fla., working as a waitress in a kibbutz in northern Israel, was drinking in a grimy hostel bar in the town of Tiberias when the now-famous white Ford Bronco flashed on CNN with seemingly half of Southern California in pursuit.

"We thought, `Oh, wow, this is ridiculous,' but we couldn't stop watching," recalled Auerbach, who ended up explaining the importance of O.J. Simpson and the murder case to fellow drinkers.

The 75-mile freeway pursuit, carried by the four major networks, brought in about 95 million viewers, just shy of the viewership for the 1994 Super Bowl. It was also a record night nationwide for pizza deliveries.

The chase, with Simpson pointing a gun to his head while his buddy Al Cowlings drove, followed his failure to show up for arrest and a letter that seemed like a suicide note. It ended with Simpson's surrender and arrest on charges of murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

The event sold the Simpson case to many Americans, including Arlene Furash of Boca Raton, Fla., who watched the chase from her cousin Herbert's high-rise time-share condo in the Mexican resort city of Cancun.

"It was like a guy standing on a ledge: You can't help but watch," said Fredrick Koenig, a social psychologist at Tulane University.

The Bronco busted up the sleepover party for Jessica Stern on her 10th birthday.

"The girls watched it all night," said Victor Stern, father of the Coral Springs, Fla. …

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