"THE BUMP IN THE ROAD that ended Bo Stefan Eriksson's fantastic ride is practically invisible. From 10 feet away, all you can see is the ragged edge of a tar-seamed crack in an otherwise smooth sheet of pavement. Only the location is impressive - a sweet stretch of straightaway on California's Pacific Coast Highway near El Pescador state beach, just past the eucalyptus-shaded mansions of the Malibu hills. On that patch of broken asphalt, there's barely enough lip to stub a toe. Of course, when you hit it at close to 200 miles per hour, as police say Eriksson did in the predawn light last February 21, while behind the wheel of a 660-horsepower Ferrari Enzo, consequences magnify.
The Enzo has less than 6 inches of ground clearance, and at that speed, it took only a slight scrape under the front bumper to launch the vehicle. The airborne Ferrari landed in a skid that in a blink became a sidelong drift. Tires shredding, the car bounced over the shoulder onto a grassy slope wet with dew. All Eriksson could do was hold on as the slithering, swiveling Enzo again achieved liftoff, then slammed broadside into a wooden power pole.
The crash became an instant media sensation. In Los Angeles, the destruction of the rare million-dollar Ferrari - and the strange story that rose from the wreckage - dominated local radio talk shows and TV newscasts for days. For most, it was just another diversion, the newest twist on the high-speed-chase formula the city loves. But the public attention would spell disaster for a handful of people connected to Eriksson, many of them fellow participants in one of the biggest debacles in the history of the videogame industry: the epic meltdown of Gizmondo Europe, Eriksson's former company.
In the early 2000s, Gizmondo rose to prominence as the maker of a handheld gaming device designed to compete with Nintendo's DS and Sony's PlayStation Portable. The company touted its gadget as the next big thing in pocket electronics and, at one point, talked of moving half a million units in just a few months. But critics panned the device, and it failed to entice many customers. A month before Eriksson went off the road, Gizmondo declared bankruptcy, having hemorrhaged nearly $400 million in less than four years.