A flash flood devastated birthday celebrations at an Arizona swimming hole this weekend, wiping out 9 family members and leaving 1 missing. The deadly waters ripped through a canyon Saturday in Tonto National Forest, killing Maria Raya, a Phoenix mother of 3 who would have turned 26 next day. Raya’s children, Emily Garnica 3 years old Mia Garnica 5 years old and Danial Garnica 7 years old, were killed, along with 24 years old Maribel Raya-Garcia, 19 years old Javier Raya-Garcia and 2 years old Erica Raya-Garcia, according to the Gila County Sheriff’s Office and reports last Monday. The floodwaters also claimed Selia Garcia Castaneda 57 years old and 13 years old Jonathan Leo, according to authorities. Raya’s 27 years old husband, Hector Miguel Garnica, remained missing, according to family. A first responder described the flood as a “6 foot tall, 40 foot wide black wave” hurtling through the canyon at 45 mph (72 kph), according to Arizona Republic. “They had no warning. They heard a roar and it was on top of them” Water Wheel Fire and Medical District Fire Chief Ron Sattelmaier told the paper.
4 other kin in the group of 14 were treated for hypothermia at a hospital and released, according to the Republic. “An entire young family was wiped out. These people are devastated, you cannot describe how they feel” said Gila County Detective David Hornung. Garnica’s parents learned of the calamity while eating dinner at Horny Toad restaurant outside of Phoenix, where their son worked as a cook. The couple was waiting for 3 generation family to return from the mountain retreat, according to the restaurant’s general manager, Tom Price. The manager told he would known Garnica and other members of his tight-knit family for 15 years. “They’re like the Brady Bunch, they’re just extremely close. It’s pretty impressive how close they all are” Price said last Monday. Search and rescue teams from across the state will join the hunt for Garnica Tuesday in mountains roughly 100 miles outside of Phoenix. A GoFundMe campaign for the family had raised more than $54’400 by today morning.