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[True Horror] The Call

Updated: Jul 5, 2022

by Robert Hamilton

In 1993, I was working as a patrolman in the Salton City area of Imperial County. One day as I was writing reports under a tree watching the traffic, a call went out to the Brawley deputies. The call concerned a traffic accident in the desert on Highway 78 located by Glamis, which is a popular sand dune area. The information came in on the 911 system at 3:00 p.m.; the caller said a Greyhound bus had overturned and people were injured.

Imperial county is mostly desert and agriculture land, some of it not necessarily incorporated into a city or district. So, when the call when out, we all heard it, Deputy Bob Jones of Brawley responded. He was told by dispatch that the call came from a payphone located seventy feet in the parking lot from a store on Butters Road. Dispatch said the caller would not give his name. The caller hung up and no information could be gathered as to his identity

Deputy Jones, along with several other deputies, the highway patrol, and ambulances, arrived on the scene but there was no bus, no people, and no accident. A search of the area, driving several miles from the reported location, was conducted. The responding units looked for signs of a vehicle leaving the highway. With no accident, all responders were released.

Deputy Jones went to the store on Butters Road and radioed he had contacted the store owner, Javier, who said he had not seen anyone at the payphone. Deputy Jones also attempted to lift fingerprints form the phone but to no avail. The call was a hoax. So, we thought.

The following day at 3:00 p.m., Deputy Jones, working the same beat area again, received a call regarding a traffic accident on Highway 78, three miles east of Butters Road. The caller said a Greyhound bus had overturned and people were hurt. The call was identical to the accident reported the day before, so Deputy Jones had a second dispatcher, Bobby G., call Javier on Butters Road and ask who was at the payphone. Javier said he saw a man and his family by the telephone and that the man was talking on the phone. He even relayed to Bobby G. the license number of the car that was there. The first dispatcher, Norma H., said the man at the phone had identified himself as Doug Flutie.

Deputy Jones arrived at the store, and the man said the accident was about three miles to the west of the store. Deputy Jones continued and found the accident, a Greyhound bus that had overturned. Forty-two people were injured in the accident but not seriously. The ambulances and the highway patrol had also responded, and the situation was handled.

I often think about how that bus accident was the same type, at the same location as the hoax reported the day before. Was it a terrible hoax that had come true, or something else?

Whatever it was, we’ve never had an explanation for it.

Robert Hamilton was born in Poughkeepsie, New York and grew up in a small village called Wappinger Falls. After his parents divorced, he moved to Florida before making Southern California home. There, he fulfilled his dream of becoming a Deputy Sheriff. Fifteen years later his career came to a crashing end after experiencing a job-related injury that caused him to be Honorably retired. As a Deputy, Robert saw and heard things that were unexplained and without explanation: ghosts, evil, and just strange things. This was not new to him, as he had seen and heard things as a small child. Psychic? No, he’d be rich. Robert enjoys reading stories of the unexplained and flying his drone.


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