PAYSON, Ariz. — Authorities say they have found nine bodies and are looking for one more person among a group who got swept up in a furious flash flood in the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.
Gila County Sheriff’s Detective David Hornung told the Associated Press that all of the victims were among a group of 14 family and friends from the Phoenix and Flagstaff areas who had met up for a daytrip along the popular Cold Springs swimming hole.
A 13-year-old boy remains missing.
The search and rescue crews, including 40 people on foot and others in a helicopter, have recovered the bodies of five children and four adults.
They ranged in age from a 60-year-old woman to a 2-year-old girl.
Four people rescued Saturday were taken to the hospital.
Authorities have estimated that more than a hundred people were in or near the Cold Springs Swimming Hole on Saturday afternoon when a severe thunderstorm pounded down on a nearby remote area that had been burned by a recent wildfire.
The popular but unofficial cooling spot is also known as the Ellison Creek or Water Wheel swimming holes, and it is accessible through several hiking trails.
It’s about 20 feet wide and 20 feet long with a waterfall above it.
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.
There had been thunderstorms throughout the area near Payson, about an hour and half’s drive from Phoenix, but it wasn’t raining where the swimmers were.