Napa County, CA — For over 25 years, the Vacaville, CA-based elderly social group The Roamers have made their yearly trip to the Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino located 90 minutes north in Clearlake. Like so many in the past, the trip was filled with singing and chatter for the 68 seniors onboard their humorously named Blue Hair Line.
About 35 minutes into the trip along highway 128, the tour bus was run off the road by a herd of deer just as it approached Lake Berryessa’s famous Glory Hole lookout area. The bus veered off the road despite the driver’s best efforts and tumbled down into the overflow drain.
“It was terrifying,” said Dorothy Shamshire, 68, of Fairfield, CA, who was on her 4th Roamer trip. “We had just finished singing Del Shannon’s “Runaway” when the driver yelled ‘oh shit’ and slid off the road. Everyone held on for dear life, but we pretty much figured that was the end. but it was just the beginning.”
Fortunately for the elderly crew, the Blue Hair-Line had veteran bus driver Pedro Hernandez at the wheel. So even though the bus flipped on its top as it made its way terrifyingly down the Glory Hole, Mr. Hernandez never lost his cool.
The Bus Driver Saves the Day
“Everyone was terrified,” exclaimed Ms. Shamshire, “but Pedro came on the loudspeaker and told us he had everything under control and not to worry, which was strange because nothing was under control. We were heading down a huge drain.”
According to a report filed by the Napa County Sheriff, Mr. Hernandez managed to steer the 33,000 lbs bus down the hole, around an almost right-angle turn, and then out through the spillway on the other side of the dam. The bus became lodged at the drainage exit, sparing its inhabitants of a 60-foot fall to the riverbed below.
Remarkably, no one was seriously hurt, although some water did make it into the bus.
“It seemed like we were in the hole for a long time, but the police said it was just a few seconds,” continued Ms. Shamshire. “And the only thing that happened was we got a little wet. The rescue people were so nice. And Pedro? He’s our hero.”
Napa County Sheriff John R. Robertson said it’s a miracle no one was hurt. However, he warned ‘thrill-seekers’ who wish to test their luck with Lake Berryessa’s most famous attraction.
“Every year, people attempt to challenge the dangerous glory hole. And every year, we’re pulling bodies out of the lower egress. That’s if you’re lucky. Most people get stuck in the channel, and we have to remove them in June. Would you please take my advice? Don’t mess around the Glory Hole. These seniors are lucky to be alive, no thanks to the skillful driving of Mr. Hernandez.”