9 killed, 1 missing after flash flood rips through swimming hole near Payson

- UPDATE: Nine people are dead, five of which are children, and another person is still missing after flood waters swept down Ellison Creek at Water Wheel Falls just north of Payson.

According to a spokesperson for the Gila County Sheriff's Office, a total of 14 people were swept down the river when the flood waters arrived on Saturday afternoon at about 3:19 p.m.

GCSO received a 911 call regarding a search and rescue operation around the swimming hole when heavy rain in the area resulted in flash floods.

The victims have been identified by GCSO as 57-year-old Selia Garcia Casteneda, 27-year-old Maria Raya-Garcia, 24-year-old Maribel Raya-Garcia, 19-year-old Javier Raya-Garcia, 13-year-old Jonathan Leon, 7-year-old Danial Garnica, 5-year-old Mia Garnica and 3-year-old Emily Garnica.

Investigators say 29-year-old Julia Garcia, 28-year-old Esthela Atondo, 8-year-old Acis Garcia and 1-year-old Marina Garcia survived and were rescued from the flash flood.

"There was probably no way they heard that there was a flash flood warning because there was no cellphone service and no radio stations down there either," said David Hornung, a spokesperson with GCSO.

On Monday morning, deputies will continue to search for a 27-year-old man who remains missing.

At this time, First Crossing, Second Crossing, and Water Wheel on Houston Mesa Road are all closed.

A GoFundMe account for the Payson flash flood victims has been established:


This is a developing story. Stay with Fox 10 news for updates. 

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