Gil LeBreton

‘Grace of God’ spared Cowboys’ bus survivors

By 3 p.m. Sunday, the big white luxury bus with the unmistakable Dallas Cowboys logo was scheduled to be pulling into Las Vegas.

At GameWorks near the Las Vegas airport, there were scheduled to be more Cowboys fans, more autographs, more selfies with Rowdy, the team’s big-grinning costumed mascot; Emory Tyler, the bus driver, and columnist Mickey Spagnola, who has covered the team for more than 30 years.

The bus was moving north along U.S. 93, a four-lane divided highway that serves as the most direct route between Phoenix and Las Vegas.

The minivan appeared to be trying to turn onto Pierce Ferry Road, which winds through Dolan Springs on its way to the Grand Canyon.

Spagnola was on a sofa on the passenger side when the impact knocked him to the floor. The large windshield panel on that side exploded, sending glass towards the drivers seat.

"We were headed towards a ditch, and I just knew we were going to flip over," a shaken Spagnola said later. "But it never did. Emory somehow kept the bus upright."

Four occupants in the other vehicle died at the scene, according to Arizona Department of Public Safety officials.

"It’s a terrible tragedy," Spagnola said. "We survived by the grace of God."

None of the four in the Cowboys bus were seriously injured.

Tyler was the driver on a fan appreciation tour – Road Trippin’ 2016 – that planned eight stops on the way from Irving to the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard, Calif.

The passengers included Foster Naylor of Fort Worth, who performed as Rowdy during the tour, and videographer Jacob Walraven of Arlington.

The bus was originally scheduled to arrive in southern California on Monday afternoon.