Arizona Family Laid to Rest; Tenth Victim Found

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Ten white coffins lined the front of St. Patrick’s church in Scottsdale, Arizona, as three generations of Raya family were laid to rest yesterday, the victims of the Payson flash flood that killed them instantly during a birthday celebration.

The final victim, Hector Miguel Garnica, 27, whose remains were the last to be discovered after five days of search and recovery operations by the Central Arizona Fire and Medical Authority and the Gila County Sheriff.

Authorities had concentrated in two areas north of where the discovery was made. He was ultimately identified through DNA. Authorities worked swiftly to ensure he could be included in the funeral mass held ten days after the July 15 monster flash flood swallowed the family who had no warning.


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Video of the killer flood shows the beginning which appears to be moving, heaving ground, in the distance and as the impending disaster moves closer, forging new trenches moving the dirt, sludge in a first wave with pictures showing the heavy, dense mud filled with debris, trees, anything that was in its path, boulders, moving effortlessly. Then the flood waters expanded the makeshift river to nearly 40 foot wide, a raging, unstoppable tide of death.  No one had any idea this force of nature would be so deadly.

More than 1000 mourners arrived to pay respects to the family who went to Payson swimming hole, named one of Arizona’s top ten swimming-watering holes, for a birthday celebration. The day that began with such hope ended in stark numbing tragedy. Four other members of the family survived. A niece of the victim's, and a survivor herself, hasn’t spoken, surviving members say, since.


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The Mexican immigrant family were all known as hard working, family oriented and generous. Stories have emerged of surviving members bringing food and water to the rescuers searching for the Hector Garnica, the final member to be found.

Those killed in the Payson flood were Celia Garcia, 60, Maria Raya, 26, (who was celebrating her 26th birthday), her husband, Hector Miguel Garnica, 26, and three children, ages 3, 5, and 7. Also dead her sister, Maribel Raya, 24, her two-year-old daughter Erika, and younger brother Javier, 14 and Mrs. Garcia's grandson Jonathan Leon, 13.

Many in the Phoenix-Scottsdale communities were emotionally effected by the horrific tragedy and allowed their grief to guide them allowing kindness to become a beacon in the darkest days with financial offers to cover funeral expenses for the ten family members.

Sources: Various

Photo: Facebook

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