PAYSON, AZ (7/18/17) – Monsoon storms continue to hamper rescue efforts for the search of 27-year-old Hector Garnica who went missing Saturday after a flash flood near Payson.
More than 75 search and rescue personnel, assisted by five cadaver dogs, two Department of Forestry and Fire Management Type II hand crews, and a drone, continued day three of search operations.
Today’s objective for crews was to systematically search the river channel for the last victim. Hand crews were responsible for breaking down debris piles to allow ground crews safer access to the search area.
At noon, and after more than four hours of searching, crews had to be called back to camp after multiple storms in the Water Wheel area stalled efforts. Due to the multitude and magnitude of the storms and lightning, Tuesday’s search was eventually called off around 2 pm.
A National Weather Service meteorologist has been assigned to the incident and is providing real time updates to the Incident Management Team every 30 minutes. Weather lookouts have also been posted around the operation site as an additional safety measure for crews on the ground.
“The Gila County Sheriff’s Office and Tonto Rim Search and Rescue volunteers have done a great job to recover all but one of the victims of this tragic event. Our Incident Management Team would also like to thank all the Search and Rescue groups that have already provided their valuable assistance and for those who are scheduled to respond to assist in the future. As we manage this incident, our condolences are with the families who have lost loved ones. Our goal is to recover Mr. Garnica and bring closure to his family as soon as possible,” said Incident Commander Trainee Brannon Eagar.
Search crews will resume operations around 7 am Wednesday morning.
On Monday, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office turned over rescue operations to DFFM’s Type 3 All Hazard Response Team.
For more information, contact Tiffany Davila at 602-540-1036 or by email at [email protected]