EDITORS’ PICKS

Teenage witness says deadly Arizona flash flood was heartbreaking to watch

Jul 17, 2017, 3:21 PM | Updated: Jul 18, 2017, 11:19 am
This Saturday, July 15, 2017 image from video provided by Scott Muller shows the flash flood just u...

This Saturday, July 15, 2017 image from video provided by Scott Muller shows the flash flood just upstream of a popular swimming hole where it swept several people to their deaths in the Tonto National Forest near Payson, Ariz. The flood was the result of a thunderstorm that dumped heavy rainfall just upstream, unleashing 6-foot-high floodwaters, dark with ash from a summer wildfire. (Scott Muller via AP)

(Scott Muller via AP)
LISTEN: Nancy Coto, Flash Flood Survivor

PHOENIX — A teenage girl who witnessed a flash flood that claimed the lives of at least nine people described the scene as “heartbreaking.”

Nancy Coto, 17, was visiting the Cold Springs water hole near Payson with the first time with her boyfriend and his family. She said they first spotted the fast-approaching flood from the trail.

“I just heard my boyfriend’s dad say, ‘Hey, look. Watch this. It’s crazy,'” she told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Mac & Gaydos on Monday. “And we go up there and water is just gushing down.”

Coto said the entrance to their trail was quickly covered. When the water started rising, fear set in.

“That’s when I started panicking and I said, ‘OK, guys, we need to go up,'” she said.

Coto said their lives were not in danger, but they spotted a woman who was trapped in a tree.

“All you see is this lady holding on to this tree just for her life.”

Then Coto saw a man holding a baby who was stuck in a different tree.

“It was down the creek a little bit,” she said. “We were close to him, but there was a gap (so) that we couldn’t get him.”

Coto was trapped for about four hours while the waters receded. She said her boyfriend was able to find a search-and-rescue team at one point.

All three people she spotted were rescued, but others were not so lucky. Coto saw at least one of the victims being carried out of the area.

“Once we were in front of everybody we just noticed there was people carrying a body bag,” she said. “We thought it was someone that was hurt. We didn’t think that someone died.”

At least nine people from the same family were killed. A 10th person was missing.

“I just can’t stop thinking about the families — the lives that were taken away – and how they’re doing,” Coto said.

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Editors’ Picks

(AP Photo)...
Corbin Carson

The rocky history of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Arizona

Some of us will not be working on Monday as it is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but the holiday was not always recognized in Arizona.
2 years ago
(Screenshot)...
KTAR.com

More than 20 years later, mystery of Phoenix Lights still fascinates people

Wednesday marks the 22nd anniversary of one of the strangest things to ever happen in Arizona, the Phoenix Lights phenomenon.
3 years ago
(Facebook Photo)...
KTAR.com

Salud! Mark National Margarita Day at these Phoenix-area spots

Get ready for the excuse you needed on a Friday: It's National Margarita Day! Here are some great Phoenix-area spots to grab a drink with tequila.
3 years ago
(Facebook Photo)...
KTAR.com

Here are 5 Phoenix spots to find pancakes on National Pancake Day

We thought we would put together a list to give you some of the top flapjack places in Phoenix to eat at on National Pancake Day.
4 years ago
(AP Photo)...
KTAR.com

Before he was a senator, John McCain was a war hero and POW

Before U.S. Sen. John McCain went into politics, he was a young man flying fighter planes over Vietnam, where he was shot down and kept as a POW.
4 years ago
(AP Photo)...
KTAR.com

Arizona Sen. John McCain has died of brain cancer at the age of 81

John McCain, a senator and veteran known as "The Maverick," passed away in Arizona at the age of 81 on Saturday evening.
4 years ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Arizona Division of Problem Gambling

Arizona Division of Problem Gambling provides exclusion solution for young sports bettors

Sports betting in Arizona opened a new world to young adults, one where putting down money on games was as easy as sending a text message.
...
Canvas Annuity

The secret to guaranteed retirement income

Annuities aren’t really a secret, but they are so misunderstood that they might as well be. Once you understand what an annuity is and how it can benefit you, you could decide this “secret” is the perfect supplement to your retirement plan.
(Twitter photo / Coco5)...
Coco5

Suns star Devin Booker’s all-natural sports drink Coco5 perfect for any activity

Devin Booker is leading the Suns in pursuit of their first NBA championship while also working to provide people proper hydration with Coco5.
Teenage witness says deadly Arizona flash flood was heartbreaking to watch