PAYSON, Ariz. – It is confirmed nine lives were cut short Saturday afternoon because of a flash flood that tore through a popular swimming hole north of Payson.
Three extended families hoping for a reunion over the weekend suffered a devastating loss.
Five children and four adults were confirmed dead after their bodies were recovered.
An entire family was swept away from a day together -- their lives cut short when the water and debris roared through the Cold Springs swimming hole Saturday afternoon.
The Gila County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday the bodies of Maria Raya-Garcia (27) and her children Daniel Garnica (7), Mia Garnica (5) and Emily Garnica (3) were found. As of Tuesday morning, crews called search for the father of the family, Hector Miguel Garnica (27), a recovery effort.
Miguelito, as his family affectionately called him, cared deeply for his family. His sister, Carla Garnica, told us if he was gone he should be with his wife and children.
“He has to rest in peace with his whole family,” Garnica cried.
We’re told Miguelito was a hard worker -- always loved by those in his life.
Maria’s mother, Selia Garcia Castañeda (57), lost her life along with two daughters, a son, and five grandchildren -- including Jonathan Leon (13), Maribel Raya Garcia (24) and Javier Raya Garcia (19).
Friends said Javier filled any room he was in with energy and love. He planned to continue his education after graduating high school just last year.
Javier lived with his sister Maribel and her daughter -- the youngest victim in this tragedy -- 2-year-old Erica Raya Garcia.
Anyone wanting to help the family with funeral costs can click here to donate.