10 family members killed in flash flood mourned in Arizona

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People came to mourn the 10 family members that were killed in a flash flood near Payson on July 15. (Source: Iris Garnica) People came to mourn the 10 family members that were killed in a flash flood near Payson on July 15. (Source: Iris Garnica)
Scores of people stopped to remember them during a visitation Monday. (Source: Iris Garnica) Scores of people stopped to remember them during a visitation Monday. (Source: Iris Garnica)
A vigil was held last Saturday night in Payson for the family as well. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A vigil was held last Saturday night in Payson for the family as well. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Fourteen people in total were swept away by the flash flood on July 15 near Payson. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Fourteen people in total were swept away by the flash flood on July 15 near Payson. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
SCOTTSDALE, AZ (AP) -

The 10 white caskets belonging to three generations of a Mexican immigrant family were arranged in a horseshoe around the altar at the Catholic church, each one bearing a metal crucifix inside its satin-lined lid.

They died together in mere seconds when a dark torrent of water rushed through the placid swimming hole where they were celebrating a family birthday on July 15, taking a grandmother, aunts and uncles, children and grandchildren.

[RELATED: Vigil held for Payson flash flood victims]

Scores of people remembered them during a visitation on Monday. They stopped and prayed by the caskets as a loop of family photos was shown on large screens throughout the sanctuary: children under a Christmas tree, a new baby in a crib, a little girl kissing her mother. Framed photos of the victims were placed on long tables just inside the church entrance alongside some of the littlest victims' favorite toys. There was a Minnie Mouse doll, a small plastic horse, a soccer ball, a race car.

The viewing at the church came one day after another flash flood trapped 17 hikers in a scenic canyon on the outskirts of Tucson. All but two hikers were rescued by helicopter from Tanque Verde Falls in Arizona's Pima County on Sunday, and the last pair was lifted to safety Monday morning.

Hector Miguel Garnica, 26, was the last member of the family to be found, days after the others and positively identified through his DNA just in time to be included in the funeral Mass on Tuesday morning.

[READ MORE: Remains found confirmed to be father missing after flash flood near Payson]

His wife, Maria del Carmen Raya Garcia, was killed as they marked her 27th birthday, along with their three small children: Hector Daniel, 7, Mia, 5, and Emily, 3.

Also killed was Raya Garcia's mother, Selia Garcia Castaneda, 57; her brother Javier Raya Garcia, 19; her sister Maribel Raya Garcia, 24; Maribel's daughter Erika Janel Camacho Raya, 2; and Jonatan Leon Villanueva, a grandson of Selia Garcia who would have turned 13 next month.

The group was swept away when a flash flood from a thunderstorm upstream rushed through the swimming area at Tonto National Forest. Authorities have said the family had no warning.

[MORE: 9 killed, 1 missing after flash flood tears through swimming hole near Payson]

Those who knew Hector Garnica said he was a hard-working family man whose positive demeanor was widely known at the numerous restaurants that employed him as a cook over the years in the town of Cave Creek outside Scottsdale.

Maria Raya Garcia was known for her kind manner and deep dedication to her own job at a local restaurant kitchen.

"I thought it was like a dream; I was hoping it wasn't real," said Ray Lopez, kitchen manager at El Encanto restaurant, where she worked. He recalled Raya Garcia's joy when he and the chef agreed to let her take her birthday weekend off despite the busy weekend schedule.

[RELATED: Search intensifies for man swept away in violent flash flood]

Lopez said he and the rest of the restaurant staff have been deeply upset by the loss of their friend and co-worker.

"I'm OK when I'm here at home," Lopez said. "When I go there and she's not there - that's when I have a hard time."

Four other relatives survived the flash flood.

Sonia Atondo, whose niece Esthela Abigail Atondo was rescued the day of the tragedy, said her younger relative still isn't talking about what happened.

"I saw her and hugged her, but she didn't say anything," said the elder Atondo, who traveled from Seattle to attend the funeral. "She didn't want to say anything."

[SLIDESHOW: Deadly flash flood at swimming hole near Payson]

Esthela Atondo, along with her husband, Julio Cesar Garcia; their 1-year-old daughter Marina Garcia; and his 8-year-old son from a previous relationship, Acis Raiden Garcia, were all rescued. The aunt said she did not know the people who died.

"I think it is a thing of God that they were saved," Atondo said of those rescued. "Our family is very grateful (to Cesar) for saving (Marina.) He did what he could, and that was a lot."

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