It was supposed to be an afternoon of fun, relaxation, and family bonding in a popular swimming area, but all too quickly everything turned into a nightmare.
A family lost nine members to a raging flash flood that rushed through Cold Springs swimming hole along the East Verde River north of Payson in Arizona Saturday.The 27-year-old father remains missing.
Authorities continue to search for the body of the 27-year-old man, whose wife and three children, along with other members of their extended family have been found dead in a horrendous tragedy when a wall of water swept through the swimming hole inside Tonto National Forest.
Crews were still searching for other missing people swept by the flash floods.
Water Wheel fire and medical district fire chief Ron Sattelmaier said that more than a hundred people were in the Cold Springs swimming hole on Saturday afternoon when a severe thunderstorm pounded down on a nearby remote area that had been affected by a recent wildfire.
The normally calm creek turned into a raging river within seconds. Four people were rescued by helicopter on Saturday and were brought to the hospital for treatment of possible hypothermia. About a dozen people remain missing.
The thunderstorm hit nearly eight miles upstream of the swimming hole along the Ellison Creek quickly flooding the narrow canyon where swimmers were enjoying a cool dip in the midst of summer afternoon heat.
Sattlemaier said: “They had no warning. They heard a roar and it was on top of them.”
Disa Alexander happened to be in the swimming hole when the flash flood happened, although at a safer distance and shot video footage of the incident. It shows a man in a tree holding tight to his baby as water rushed around him. His wife was a few meters away, also holding on to a tree. Alexander said there was absolutely no warning that a flash flood of that intensity is about to hit them.
She said: “We were kinda looking at the water, it was really brown. Literally 20 seconds later you just see, like hundreds of gallons of water smacking down and debris and trees getting pulled in. It looked like a really big mudslide.”
Alexander’s video, however, is already aftermath of the raging flash flood that took the lives of a family of nine.