An Arizona family that went to a popular swimming hole on Saturday to celebrate a birthday was swept up by flash floods that killed nine of them, including several children.
The family, from Phoenix, went to Cold Springs in Tonto National Forest on a sweltering afternoon to celebrate Maria Raya’s birthday, according to the Arizona Republic. Fourteen family members were at the celebration, including Raya’s three children and her husband, as well as extended members of the family.
Suddenly, a nearby flash flood brought water surging into the area where the family and about 100 others were swimming. One eyewitness described it to the Republic as a “six-foot tall, 40-foot wide black wave” that seemed to come out of nowhere.
“They had no warning. They heard a roar and it was on top of them,” Water Wheel Fire Chief Ron Sattelmaier told the newspaper.
Among the dead are Raya, 27, and her children – Emily, 3, Mia, 5 and Danial, 7, and five of her family members, Jonathan Leon, 13. Selia Garcia Castaneda, 57, Erica Raya-Garcia, 2 and Maribel Raya-Garcia. Her husband, Hector Garnica, 27, is still missing.