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Body Found After Arizona Flash Flood Identified as 10th Victim

by Phil Helsel /
The muddy water was much lower near the Water Wheel recreation area where victims were caught in a flash flood along the banks of the East Verde River on July 17, 2017 in Payson, Arizona. The bodies of nearly a dozen children and adults have been found after Saturday's flash flooding poured over a popular swimming area in the Tonto National Forest. FileRoss D. Franklin / AP file

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A body found in Arizona this week following a deadly flash flood has been identified as that of missing man who was the last remaining victim in the tragedy that killed nine other members of his extended family.

The remains found in the East Verde River on Wednesday were identified as that of Hector Garnica, 27, Gila County Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd said in a statement Friday.

Garnica and the other family members were swept away when a flash flood struck a gathering at a swimming hole in Tonto National Forest north of Payson on June 15, authorities said. The ages of the nine other victims ranged from 3 to 57 years old. The flash flood struck the group shortly before 3:19 p.m. local time (6:19 p.m. ET), authorities have said.

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Arizona is in its monsoon season and flash floods are not uncommon, officials have said. The flood is believed to have been triggered by heavy rain that fell 6 to 8 miles north of the scene of the incident, a sheriff’s official said. Shepherd has said that the family likely had little warning before the flood hit.

Shepherd expressed his condolences to the family and said "we are actively working to help bring closure to this incident and for this family as they begin to heal."

Day sites and parts of the East Verde River in the national forest will be closed through August as an investigation and safety assessments are done, the Forest Service said.

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