For a mile-and-a-half they watched, spellbound.
"I can't believe," Faith Rodriguez was thinking to herself, "I'm looking at this."
It was 5:45 on the morning of Saturday, Dec. 8, and the Kelseyville High School wrestling team was traveling south in a seven-vehicle caravan on Highway 29. They were headed to Elsie Allen for a tournament that morning. They had been on the road only 15 minutes.
"I thought the driver was either drunk or texting," said Rob Brown, one of the team's wrestling coaches who was driving his truck, the lead vehicle.
The caravan had come upon a white van that was going a bit slower but, alarmingly, weaving all over the road. Brown tried to calm the five wrestlers in his truck with his trademark humor.
"After a brief time," Brown said, "I determined the driver was drunk and texting."
Brown gave a respectful distance and then the driver made the move that scared and shocked Rodriguez, her 17 teammates and all the parents and coaches in the procession.
The driver, a woman, moved the van ever so slowly but deliberately to the left lane, to the opposite lane, where oncoming traffic would approach.
"Is the driver trying to play chicken with oncoming drivers?" thought freshman Robert Clark.
They stared and shook their heads and silently they all were thinking what Rodriguez was thinking.
"Come on ... move over ... get over ... get back in our lane."
The van didn't. For a mile-and-a-half, the driver stayed in that oncoming lane, going south in that northbound lane. It was pitch black.
"The driver was actually driving better in that lane than she was in ours," Brown said.
Of all the reactions coaches, parents and athletes were having, freshmen Tylor Smith had perhaps the most mature response.
"What kind of day did this driver have?" Smith wondered.
Around not one, not two, but around three blind curves the driver continued without incident. Rodriguez and Smith both thought they were going to see their first traffic accident.
"Was I going to see someone die in front of me?" she said.
Going into the fourth blind corner a pick-up truck approached. The van driver didn't a make move to evade. At the last second the driver of the pick-up truck jerked his vehicle right to avoid contact, hitting the gravel on the shoulder. In a reaction very much delayed, the driver of the van eased the car back into the southbound lane.
"But she did it slowly," Brown said, "as if she was casually passing someone."
That's when Brown decided he was going to follow this drunk driver to ends of the Earth if necessary.
"I wanted to get her off the road," he said. "I was hoping she would drift a little more to the right so I could get the nose of my truck in front of the van and force her off the road."
Didn't happen. Brown got on his cell and called the Lake County Sheriff's Department. Told them the situation, the location. For a total of 10 minutes, Brown estimated, he followed the van, 4 to 5 miles the distance. The six cars behind Brown followed him and didn't challenge the strategy. This was Rob Brown, for criminey sakes, a legend in these parts. He's been a bail bondsman for 22 years. He's captured fugitives in 37 states, even gone to London and Tijuana to bring back a bad guy. Brown had everyone's trust.
SRJC Board of Trustees meeting
The issue: The board will decide whether to pursue project labor agreements for a future construction project or projects built with $410 million in voter-approved bond funding.
PLAs: The deals typically establish the terms and conditions of a construction project before work begins. They can cover wages, benefits, strike prevention and rules for dispute resolution.
Supporters say: The deals limit labor strife, encourage hiring of local workers, provide benefits otherwise offered and help prevent delays and cost overruns.
Opponents say: The deals discourage nonunion bidders, reduce competition, interfere with the efficient project management and drive up costs.
Meeting details: 4 p.m., Tuesday, Student Activities Center, Bertolini Student Center, Santa Rosa campus.