Arizona flash flood: Police name victims killed and rescued in storm; search for missing man underway

The 14 people who were caught in a flash flood at a popular swimming hole in Arizona Saturday were identified by police on Monday and some were members of an extended family, authorities said.

One man remains missing.

Officials had previously said the last missing person was a 13-year-old boy, but have since realized that his body was recovered Sunday. Authorities now say the person missing is a 27-year-old man who has not been identified.

About 40 volunteer search-and-rescue workers and four search dogs resumed the search early Monday.

Gila County Sheriff's Office identified the others who were rescued from the flood as Julio Garcia, 29, Esthela Atondo, 28 and Marina Garcia, 1. The people who were killed are Jonathan Leon, 13, Mia Garnica, 5, Emily Garnica, 3, Danial Garnica, 7, Javier Raya-Garcia, 19, Selia Garcia Castaneda, 57, Erica Raya-Garcia, 2, Maribel Raya-Garcia, 24, and Maria Raya-Garcia, 27.


The group from the Phoenix and Flagstaff areas had met Saturday for a day trip at a swimming hole near Payson, about 100 miles northeast of the capital. The intense thunderstorm caught everyone by surprise, unleashing 6-foot-high floodwaters mixed with trees and other debris onto the group.

The National Weather Service estimated up to 1.5 inches of rain fell over the area in an hour. The thunderstorm hit about 8 miles upstream along Ellison Creek, which quickly flooded the narrow canyon where the swimmers were.

Gila County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. David Hornung said the National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning about 1 1/2 hours before, "but unless they had a weather radio out there, they wouldn't have known about it. There is no cell phone service out here."

"They had no warning. They heard a roar, and it was on top of them," Water Wheel Fire and Medical District Fire Chief Ron Sattelmaier said.

While Arizona is known for its dryness, it gets bursts of heavy rains during the summer monsoon season. The severe thunderstorm was located in a remote area that had been burned by a recent wildfire, Sattelmaier said.

Sudden flooding in canyons has been deadly before. In 2015, seven people were killed in Utah's Zion National Park when they were trapped during a flash flood while hiking in a popular canyon that was as narrow as a window in some spots and several hundred feet deep.

In 1997, 11 hikers were killed near Page, Arizona, after a wall of water from a rainstorm miles upstream tore through a narrow, twisting series of corkscrew-curved walls on Navajo land known as Lower Antelope Canyon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.