Hik­ers res­cued from trees af­ter Ari­zona flash flood


A he­li­copter res­cued hik­ers cling­ing to tree branches and perched on boul­ders as a flash flood tore through a nor­mally quiet creek in Ari­zona, where un­pre­dictable sum­mer storms can rapidly wash churn­ing tor­rents into canyons and trap those look­ing to take ad­van­tage of cooler weather af­ter the rain.

Seven­teen hik­ers, in­clud­ing a young child, were stranded Sun­day in a scenic canyon on the out­skirts of Tuc­son, just over a week af­ter flood waters killed 10 mem­bers of an ex­tended fam­ily more than 140 miles to the north.

In south­ern Ari­zona, two fi­nal hik­ers were lifted to safety Mon­day morn­ing from Tanque Verde Falls af­ter they spent the night stuck on the side of a cliff in a rocky, nar­row canyon, au­thor­i­ties said.

One woman suf­fered mi­nor leg in­juries that did not re­quire med­i­cal at­ten­tion, of­fi­cials said.

Brian Boll, in­ci­dent com­man­der from the Pima County Sher­iff ’s Depart­ment, choked up recounting the res­cue.

“When you see a 4-year-old on his dad’s back and you can’t get to them, it’s tough,” Boll said.

The res­cue was a re­minder of the dan­gers of flash flood­ing dur­ing Ari­zona’s mon­soon, a weather phe­nom­e­non that brings pow­er­ful and un­pre­dictable storms each sum­mer with bursts of heavy rain that can quickly over­whelm usu­ally calm wa­ter­ways.

When rains ease triple-digit tem­per­a­tures, peo­ple of­ten go hik­ing, but that’s when the dan­ger of flash flood­ing has sky­rock­eted, au­thor­i­ties said. On July 15, a fam­ily cel­e­brat­ing a birth­day at a swim­ming hole in Ari­zona was swept away by a wall of wa­ter.

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