Family of Payson flash flood victims prepares for final goodbye

10 family members were killed in a flash flood near Payson July 15.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Just more than one week after 10 people lost their lives in a flash flood north of Payson, hundreds poured in to support family of the victims during a viewing Monday at St. Patrick Catholic Community.

Monday, the victims who lost their lives in the Cold Springs swimming hole lied in 10 white caskets, each with flowers cascading over them.

On Saturday, July 15, the group was celebrating Maria Del Carmen Raya Garcia’s birthday. She, her two daughters and son were killed that day. The body of her husband, Hector Miguel Garnica, was the last found; he would’ve turned 27 years old next month. Fourteen were swept away by the debris; a family of four survived.

Pictures of the deceased and some of their favorite things sat in the lobby in their memory; many of them included toys and sports jerseys because five of the victims were children -- the youngest only 2 years old.

Family broke down in tears as they walked up to see their loved ones.

The father of Hector Miguel Garnica was so devastated he fell ill at one point.

Maria Garnica is a cousin of the victims on the Garnica side. She and her sister, Iris Garnica, said it was almost impossible to walk up to see their bodies.

“It was devastating, but I know they’re in peace and they’re all together,” Maria Garnica said.

The casket holding the body of Hector Miguel Garnica was closed; it took search crews five days to find his remains.

In addition to all this devastation the family struggled a little getting relatives here from Mexico to say their last goodbyes, but were able to obtain visas for some relatives, including the great grandmother on the Garnica side. 

An anonymous donation covered the costs of burying all 10 victims.

The family was grateful for everyone’s emotional and financial support. 

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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