BASS LAKE – A single-vehicle crash at Bass Lake on Thursday, May 22, turned into an hour-long search for the driver who bailed, and was followed by an arrest for felony DUI.
A group from Fresno was camping at Recreation Point when they decided to take a drive on Road 432 along the north shore of the lake.
The 33-year-old driver had apparently been enjoying a few more alcoholic beverages than were prudent for someone who planned to get behind the wheel, especially with his small son in the car.
Two adult males, along with two adult females and a small boy were westbound on Road 432 in a 2006 Honda Pilot at 6:32 p.m. The apparently inebriated driver took the sharp corner at Willow Creek at a speed too fast to safely negotiate the turn, and drove off the right shoulder, where the car disappeared into the thick willows.
According to witness reports, everyone then got out of the vehicle, and began making their way back down the road and across the dry lake bed toward their camp site. The driver reportedly ran when he heard CHP vehicles approaching, and disappeared into the surrounding neighborhood at the head of the lake.
At first, it was a bit of a mystery as to where the accident had happened, and where the vehicle was. Firefighters staged along the road just east of the Road 222 junction, and a SkyLife helicopter circled above, having responded to reports of injuries in a rollover crash.
Soon, CHP officers could be seen escorting the group back across the lake bed to Road 432, where they were questioned and cooperated with officers, giving them information on the driver, who was by then, hiding out somewhere in the area.
All the passengers were checked out by Sierra Ambulance personnel. The male passenger had a bruised and swollen face, and was bleeding from what might have been a broken nose, but he declined transport for medical treatment.
Once the Honda was located in the dense willow thicket, Jerry and Mark from Doc’s Towing made quick work of hauling it out of the shrubbery and into the Willow Creek Trailhead turnout.
Traffic was only stopped for the ten minutes or so it took to get the Honda out of the roadway.
Officers then fanned out across the area in search of the errant driver. After less than an hour, they were able to flush him out of his hiding place, and arrest him for felony DUI, causing injury to another.
Since the vehicle had been impounded, the passengers were transported to a location where they could be picked up by family members.