Community rocked by tragic loss of family swept away in flash flood – Arizona News

Community rocked by tragic loss of family swept away in flash flood – Arizona News

CAVE CREEK – Search efforts resumed Monday morning near the Water Wheel recreation site, also known as the Cold Springs swimming hole in Tonto National Forest outside of Payson for Hector Miguel Garnica, 26, the last family member unaccounted for after a flash flood ripped through the area Saturday afternoon killing nine of 14 family members as they were celebrating his wife Maria Raya-Garcia’s birthday. Raya-Garcia would have turned 27 on Sunday.

Although a flash flood warning was issued by the National Weather Service about 90 minutes earlier, there is no cell phone service in the canyon for the family to have been warned before the six-foot high, 40-foot wide wall of muddy water carrying tree trunks and logs tore through the area at 45 miles per hour.

The sign on the locked gate of El Encanto Restaurant states: “We are closing today with great sadness in our hearts. Last night near Payson one of our staff and many of her family lost their lives in a flash flood while camping. Today we need to grieve and we thank you for understanding.”

The victims include Raya-Garcia; hers and Garnica’s three children: Emily Garnica, 3, Mia Garnica, 5, and Daniel Garnica, 7; Raya-Garcia’s sister, Maribel Raya-Garcia, 24, her daughter Erica Raya-Garcia, 2, and Maribel’s brother Javier Raya-Garcia, 19; Celia Garcia-Castenada, 57, mother of Maria, Maribel and Javier; and Garcia-Castenada’s grandson Jonathan Leon, 13.

Four other family members: Julio Garcia, 29, Esthela Atonado, 28, and their two children Acis Garcia, 8, and Marina Garcia, 1, were rescued, treated for hypothermia at a local hospital and released.

Several family members worked at area…

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