Flash flood kills 9:

Amer­ica

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Da­mond

Hodges

Adults, teens and chil­dren as young as 2 were en­joy­ing a sum­mer af­ter­noon by cool­ing off in an Ari­zona creek when the gen­tle wa­ters turned deadly.

The group from the Phoenix and Flagstaff ar­eas had met Satur­day for a day trip along a pop­u­lar swim­ming hole near Payson, about 100 miles (160.9 kilo­me­ters) north­east of the cap­i­tal. They set up lounge chairs not know­ing an in­tense thun­der­storm was dump­ing heavy rain­fall just up­stream in the Tonto Na­tional For­est.

The storm un­leashed 6-foot-high flood­wa­ters, dark with ash from a sum­mer wild­fire, onto the un­sus­pect­ing fam­ily and friends. The tor­rent car­ried away tree branches and other de­bris and left a wake of nine bod­ies.

Search and res­cue crews, in­clud­ing 40 peo­ple on foot and oth­ers in a he­li­copter, re­cov­ered the bod­ies of five chil­dren and four adults, some as far as 2 miles down the river. Au­thor­i­ties did not iden­tify them.

A 13-year-old boy from the same group was still miss­ing Sun­day.

Disa Alexan­der was hik­ing to the swim­ming area where El­li­son Creek and East Verde River con­verge when the wa­ter sud­denly surged.

Video she posted to so­cial me­dia showed tor­rents of wa­ter surg­ing through jagged canyons carved in Ari­zona’s sig­na­ture red rock.

“I could have just died!” Alexan­der ex­claimed on the video.

She spot­ted a man hold­ing a baby and cling­ing to a tree. Nearby, his wife was also in a tree. A boy Alexan­der de­scribed as the cou­ple’s son was on the rocks above the wa­ter.

Had they been swept down­stream, they would have been sent over a 20-foot wa­ter­fall, Alexan­der said.

Alexan­der and oth­ers tried to reach them

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