7 Killed, More Missing in Swimming Hole Flash Flood

Local fire chief in Arizona: 'They had no warning'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 16, 2017 5:05 PM CDT
7 Killed, More Missing in Swimming Hole Flash Flood
Rafters meander along the Salt River in Tonto National Forest, Ariz.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

At least seven people were found dead and about a dozen more are missing after flash flooding poured over a popular swimming area inside the Tonto National Forest in central Arizona, reports the AP. Water Wheel Fire and Medical District Fire Chief Ron Sattelmaier says more than a hundred people were in the Cold Springs swimming hole Saturday afternoon when a severe thunderstorm pounded down on a nearby remote area that had been burned over by a recent wildfire. Three bodies were recovered Saturday and another was found Sunday morning. The deaths include at least one child. Four people rescued by helicopter Saturday were taken to the hospital for hypothermia, but about a dozen others remain unaccounted for.

"There's no way of knowing how many people were actually there," Sattelmaier says. "It's pretty much recovery [now]. We don't believe there's anybody left out there." The thunderstorm hit about eight miles upstream along Ellison Creek, which quickly flooded the narrow canyon where the swimmers were enjoying a cool dip a on a hot summer day. "They had no warning. They heard a roar and it was on top of them," Sattelmaier says. There had been thunderstorms throughout the area, but it wasn't raining where the swimmers were. It happened during monsoon season, when weather like this can strike furiously. (More monsoon stories.)

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