Phoenix family lost camper in flooding at Bartlett Lake

A family woke up to their RV submerged in water after the Salt River Project released water into Barlett Lake due to flooding caused by snowmelt and rain.
Published: Mar. 20, 2023 at 7:09 PM MST
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RIO VERDE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - After intense flooding in the high country and here in the Valley, MCSO says they made seven water rescues this weekend. In Bartlett Lake some campers woke up in shock to find their RV in the water.

One Phoenix family woke up to their camper in four feet of water, even after they say they moved it to a safe location. “I opened the door and looked out and it was knee high on one side and waist high on the other,” said Med Skeens, who lost his camper in the water at Bartlett Lake.

Med Skeens says he and other campers were warned Thursday night by sheriff’s deputies that Salt River Project would release water into Barlett Lake due to flooding caused by snowmelt and rain. “This is not my first rodeo to dry camp, I knew how to do it but I did not know the water would rise so far so fast. You don’t mess with water, it’s dangerous.” Skeens said.

He says the deputies told him the waterline would come up shore about 10-15 feet, so he moved his camper about 45 feet, thinking it would be more than enough. “So we moved our trailer to get on this side of the rock. So it was then about 40 feet from the waterline,” Skeens said.

But MCSO says they believe the campers were properly warned, even told them it would be best for them to leave altogether. “We have no indication we have no measurement of the water rise. We never said if you park your trailer here, you’ll be fine. We always encourage, “hey, you guys should probably leave,” said Sgt. Joaquin Enriquez, water patrol for MCSO.

But Skeens says that messaging wasn’t conveyed to him. He feels like he followed the directions he was given and still faced negative consequences. “It’s a home away from home, just like you’d feel about your home. It’s your property, your personal belongings; it’s who we are,” he said.

Now Skeens says he wants to figure out who is responsible for this miscommunication to prevent this from happening to anyone else.