9 people rescued from flooded Carefree Highway


by Crystal Cruz


Posted on July 31, 2012 at 10:30 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 1 at 7:23 AM

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PHOENIX -- A total of nine people, including a baby, were rescued from their vehicles as a rain-swollen wash flooded Carefree Highway (State Route 74) west of Interstate 17 on Tuesday night.

The rescue capped a very dramatic night of severe weather.

First responders carried the baby in their arms away from the trapped car. Dozens of rescuers were on the scene helping the stranded motorists and their passengers get to safety.

At its peak, the water was about four feet deep on the highway.

"I don't know if we got the second worst of it," said Tom Clark, one the people who was rescued. "There was another car, that oh my gosh, they went flying away like a ship and we were like, 'oh my gosh, they got it worse than us'"

The drivers said the water did not look that deep, but it was powerful enough to push one vehicle at least 15 feet off the highway.

Everyone caught in the rushing water is fine, according to officials with the Phoenix Fire Department.

Four cars and one dump truck were stranded by the water. The drivers were forced to abandoned their vehicles for the night.

Carefree Highway is still closed as of Wednesday morning.

With the closure of State Route 74 between I-17 and Lake Pleasant Parkway in place due to flooding, drivers have the option of using Loop 303 as an alternative east-west route in the area.

It is a relatively new option - since it opened in May 2011 - and runs east and west two miles south of State Route 74.