Search and rescue crews are still looking for 27-year-old Hector Miguel Garnica after he and his family were swept away by a flash flood at a popular swimming hole in Arizona on July 15.
The flash flood killed nine people and left more injured when it breached a nearby canyon without warning.
On Saturday, Garnica and 13 family members met near Payson, a remote forest area about 90 miles north east of Phoenix, to celebrate his wife’s birthday. Maria Raya was set to turn 26 on Sunday and was at the swimming area with her three children. Instead, the family’s trip to the swimming area turned deadly, as treacherous thunderstorms dumped heavy rainfall in the Tonto National Forest and sent a massive flash flood their way.
The group was posted up at the swimming hole with lounge chairs around 3 p.m. on Saturday, when suddenly a “40-foot-wide black wave of water, mud and debris tore through a narrow canyon and swept the family away,” AZCentral.com reported.
The fast-moving flood current moved toward a waterfall, and chilling video recorded by a bystander shows them struggling for life. In the video, filmed by Disa Alexander, who was hiking near the swimming area, a man is seen holding a baby while clinging to a tree next to his wife.
Note: The video below may be disturbing to some.
While the identities of the victims weren’t immediately provided by police, family members news outlets that the rushing water killed Maria and her three children, ages 3, 5 and 7. It also left her husband missing and five other family members dead.
Around 1.5 inches of rain fell in the area within the hour, the National Weather Service estimated. The flash flood was caused by a flood 8 miles upstream.
Here are the list of victims, according to what family members told AZCentral:
The bodies of the five children and four adults were recovered as far as two miles down the river. Four others were trapped in the water but rescued. They were hospitalized for hypothermia and were released a day later.
Here are some of the photos of the victims of the flash flood:
Maribel Raya & Her Daughter Erika
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