Photo from Hollister Police Department Facebook post.
Photo from Hollister Police Department Facebook post.

Robert Eliason contributed to this article

Hollister Police arrested a 19-year-old woman on suspicion of driving under the influence on April 12. Police said she lost control of her vehicle and rolled over approximately 12 gravesites at Calvary Cemetery on Hillcrest Road in Hollister.   

According to Chief Carlos Reynoso, “she was traveling at a high speed on the dirt and swerved to avoid a pedestrian.” Reynoso said. “She was alone in the vehicle and the driver appeared not to have any injuries at the time.”  

The driver was arrested and booked into San Benito County Jail. Reynoso also said “as far as I am aware she had no prior DUIs, and they will not be releasing her name until her court hearing.”  

He added that the driver is a local resident.

Throughout the day concerned family members have visited Calvary Cemetery to check on their loved ones gravesites. Silvia Rocha was there to see her family’s site. 

“My first concern was for my father’s grave and my brother’s grave,” Rocha said. “I was wondering if the graves were OK. They were very close, just a few feet away from where the car came in and my brother is very close to where the car landed. Their graves are not damaged and it looks like the people here did a good job in cleaning it up fast.”

She said only slight damage and tire tracks in the lawn were visible when she arrived at the cemetery.  

“When I saw the pictures, it looked like a lot of the graves were destroyed,” Rocha said. “It is amazing that there was not more damage.”

Another worried Hollister resident, Martin Perezchica, came to see his mother’s gravesite. “My mom is buried near where the car landed,” he said, “and I have a son and a bunch of other relatives. Everything looks OK, but this place has been here for a hundred years and I have never seen anything like this. And it is lucky that this area has grave markers level to the ground rather than standing or there would have been a lot more damage. It’s crazy, but my graves are ok.”

Calvary Cemetery is working to repair tombstones that were damaged. The cost of the damage is still being assessed.

Cemetery staff and Hollister police are asking family members of those buried in the cemetery to visit and inspect gravesites to speed up the damage assessment process.



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