CAMP VERDE, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Three campers had to be rescued after they got trapped in rising floodwaters near Camp Verde this weekend. The rescue happened around 4:30 a.m. Friday, just as powerful storms were pounding many parts of our state, including the Phoenix area.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office (YCSO) got a call about some campers trapped in their RV as floodwaters rose around them. When deputies arrived at the location, they found a truck and the RV it was pulling submerged in about five feet of water, and three adults were trapped inside. At that point, temperatures hovered in the low 30s and heavy snow was continuing to fall in the area.
The Copper Canyon Fire Dept. water rescue team arrived a short time later. They were able to launch a small boat and paddle to the swamped RV to rescue those trapped. Everyone was safely back on dry land within two hours.
The trio told deputies they arrived in the area around 9 p.m. Thanksgiving night to prepare for an elk hunt and intended to set up camp the following morning.
The problem is that, overnight, there were steady rain showers in the vicinity, causing what's normally a dry pasture to fill with water. Unbeknownst to the group at the time, the waters continued rising overnight. When the campers woke up the next morning, they realized they were trapped, and called for help. The sheriff's office says that was the right move.
"The group made the right decision to reach out for help, as any attempt to move the vehicle or walk out could have resulted in serious injury, even death," says YCSO. "This incident shows how quickly floodwaters can rise in just a few hours."
Arizonans have been keeping a close eye on another rescue effort this weekend, this one near the Tonto Basin. Tonto Basin, which is north of Roosevelt Lake, is about a 90-minute drive from Phoenix.
Gila County Sheriff's Officials said that, while visiting family, a group of nine people -- two adults and seven children -- were crossing Tonto Creek at the Bar X Crossing around 4 p.m. in a military-style vehicle. GCSO had closed the crossing, along with two others, several hours earlier.
But as the floodwaters began to rise, the vehicle was swept off the road and downstream. Six people made it to safety. But three children from the group were not immediately found. Just before 9 a.m. Saturday, deputies discovered the body of one of the three missing children. About two hours later, deputies found the body of a second child from the group. The third missing child has still not been located.
GCSO said the victims found were a 5-year-old boy and a 5-year-old girl. Lt Vigil Dodd of GCSO said the boy is a child of the parents who were in the vehicle while the girl is believed to be a niece. Deputies say the bodies of the two children were found about three miles from the crash scene. "Please do not try to cross these crossings," the agency said in a Facebook post Friday morning.
An all-out search continues for the third missing child. She is 6 years old is the daughter of the parents who were in the vehicle. GCSO said that several law agencies are helping their department with the search. They include the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO), Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), Tonto Basin, TriCity and Globe fire departments.