The Latest: Authorities confirm 12 killed in flash flooding

AP News
|
Posted: Sep 15, 2015 5:43 PM
The Latest: Authorities confirm 12 killed in flash flooding

HILDALE, Utah (AP) — The latest on flash floods that swept away vehicles, killing 12 people (all times local):

3:43 p.m.

Authorities have confirmed that 12 people have died in flash flooding that swept away two vehicles in a town on the Utah-Arizona border.

Sgt. Brock Bentley of the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Utah confirmed Tuesday that three additional bodies have been found. One person remains missing in the floodwaters, while three children survived.

The wall of water washed the vehicles several hundred yards downstream Monday afternoon. Authorities say the victims are as young as 4 years old. It's unclear if they're all from the same family.

The floods came after heavy rains fell in the canyons just north of the sister towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, sending waves of water barreling through the streets. The community is known as the home base for a polygamous sect.

___

1:45 p.m.

Authorities in a Utah-Arizona border community say floodwaters hemmed in two vehicles in a canyon before they were swept away by a surge of water.

Hildale, Utah, Mayor Philip Barlow said during a news conference Tuesday water blocked the only way in and out of the canyon and there was no way the 16 people in the vehicles could have gotten out.

Nine people in the vehicle died, and one adult and three children remain missing. Three children survived.

One of the bodies, that of a child who was roughly 10 years old, was found 5 miles from where the vehicles were recovered.

Authorities say the victims are as young as four years old. It's unclear if they're all from the same family. Residents say people sometimes go to the canyon with jugs to collect water

___

12:30 p.m.

Authorities have confirmed a ninth person has died in flash flooding that swept away two vehicles in a town on the Utah-Arizona border.

Sgt. Brock Bentley of the Washington County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday confirmed another body had been found. Several people were also missing in the floodwaters.

The wall of water washed the vehicles several hundred yards downstream Monday afternoon. Officials say the bodies of two people were recovered in Arizona about 2 1/2 miles downstream, while the bodies of six others were recovered in Utah.

The floods came after heavy rains fell in the canyons just north of the sister towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, sending waves of water barreling through the streets. The community is known as the home base for a polygamous sect.

___

11 a.m.

One Colorado City, Arizona, resident says the search for five people missing in deadly flash flooding helped temporarily heal a major divide in the community on the Utah-Arizona border.

The sister cities of Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, are the home base for polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, and the towns are split by those who still follow Jeffs and those who do not, like resident Ross Chatwin.

Chatwin says he was among the hundreds of people helping dig through a massive pile of tree branches, sand, mud and other debris left behind by the biggest flood he's seen in the community. He says people on both sides of the divide were working together toward a common purpose.

By Tuesday morning, rescue crews were discouraging residents from joining the search.

___

10 a.m.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert says he's heartbroken to hear about flash flooding that killed eight people and left five others missing in towns on the Utah-Arizona border. Herbert said in a statement Tuesday morning that Utah was offering all state resources to help the towns with the search and rescue effort.

Herbert said he and first lady Jeanette Herbert are offering their condolences to the families of the victims, and the governor's office and Utah Department of Public Safety would work with local officials and emergency workers in the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.

___

9:30 a.m.

Officials say the bodies of two people killed in flash flooding in southern Utah were recovered in Arizona about two and a half miles downstream, while the bodies of six others were recovered in Utah.

The Washington County Emergency Services Department said Tuesday morning rescue crews were still searching for five others who were missing after a wall of water swept away two vehicles carrying women and children Monday evening.

One survivor of the flooding in the Utah-Arizona border community remained hospitalized overnight. Two other people survived. Officials did not release further details Tuesday about the victims or survivors.

Crews worked Tuesday morning to clear thousands of tons of mud and debris from the sister towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.

The National Weather Service issued a flash flood warning for the towns through noon Tuesday.

___

9 a.m.

Chris and Lydia Wyler of Hildale, Utah, say heavy rainfall usually draws out spectators in the community that served as a home base for polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, but they've never seen anything like the flash flooding that swept away two vehicles, killing at least eight people and leaving five others missing.

The couple said Tuesday that residents love to splash in the water and watch as it surges through creeks.

Lydia Wyler was out with her 7-year-old daughter Monday afternoon when their SUV was hemmed in by the floodwaters. She filmed women in braids and long skirts being pulled from a car in the path of a torrent of water.

Wyler said she had no idea the flooding would be so dangerous.