Gray leather couches were scattered around the interior of a customized motor home as water poured out every nook and cranny.
The white, green and blue shuttle bus, the interior of which had been renovated into a $35,000 custom recreational vehicle, was recovered Friday by divers after the owner, Charles “Randy” Smith of Marietta, lost it while backing a boat into Lake Lanier.
The motor home, Smith said, “wouldn’t stop” at the Duckett Mill boat ramp off Dawsonville Highway in northwest Hall County.
Smith was temporarily stuck in the vehicle as it filled with water, but was able to escape through the open driver-side window.
He unhitched the boat, which then floated nearby, as the bus slid off the edge of the ramp and past a sharp underwater drop-off before sinking.
Divers put the vehicle in neutral and opened the back door to let water run out as it was slowly pulled to the surface.
“We hooked the chains to the actual bus, and really that was it,” said Cory Gilleland, Hall County dive team commander.
Smith’s wife, who preferred not to share her name, said she was yelling for her husband to stop the car. Smith said he tried to apply the brakes, but the vehicle kept moving.
Smith’s wife said she was happy and relieved her husband was able to escape, but they still lost a great deal Friday.
“It’s a devastating thing, too,” she said. “You can’t imagine how much money we put into it, and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into it. We can’t get that back.”