At least nine people were killed and one person was still missing on Sunday night after flash flooding interrupted a family gathering in central Arizona over the weekend.
The Gila County Sheriff’s Office said on Sunday that it had recovered nine bodies near a swimming hole close to Payson, a small town about 90 miles northeast of Phoenix. The department’s search-and-rescue operation continued on Sunday afternoon, with assistance from the Arizona Department of Public Safety as well as from the Whispering Pines Fire Department, the United States Forest Service and the Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, a volunteer search group.
Sgt. David Hornung, a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said three bodies were recovered on Saturday, and six more were found on Sunday. At least six of the victims were children, he said. The authorities have not yet made the victims’ identities public.
Four other people were rescued and taken to hospitals on Saturday, Sergeant Hornung said, after the office received an emergency call around 3 p.m.
The victims were enjoying the relatively cool temperatures north of Payson on a day trip, he said, adding that the area is a popular getaway for people from southern Arizona. He referred to the gathering as a “family group,” though he said that some members of the party were not related.
Sergeant Hornung said that most members of the group were from the Phoenix area, which, along with the rest of southern Arizona, has experienced inordinately hot temperatures this summer.