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KNAU and Arizona News

Remains Found In Search For Missing Father After Flash Flood

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Courtesy photo
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Officials said on Wednesday evening they found human remains that could be related to the missing father who was swept away in a flash flood.

"We believe we have located remains that are involved in this tragic incident," Gila County Sheriff Adam Shepherd said.

He said the family of Hector Miguel Garnica has been notified about the discovery, and deputies are working with the Department of Public Safety to do a DNA analysis on the remains to confirm to whom the remains belong to.

The search for 27-year-old Garnica that had involved more than 100 people had been suspended at 1 p.m. on Wednesday because storms were moving in.

Thunderstorms creating possible flood conditions had hampered the search since Monday in the Tonto National Forest.

In recent days, searches have included divers probing ponds of standing water along the river and forestry crews using saws to cut up tree limbs to allow other searchers to dig and check under rocks and deep piles of debris.

Authorities said a DPS helicopter crew spotted the body on the side of the East Verde River just downstream from Shoofly Wash.

Relatives earlier Wednesday announced funeral services would be held early next week for their loved ones who died in the flood.

Garnica was one of 14 people who was swept away in a flash flood at Cold Springs swimming hole on Saturday. They were there for Garnica's wife's birthday.

Nine people confirmed dead on Sunday, including a handful of kids. 

Gila County Sheriff's Office identified the victims as Selia Garcia Castaneda, 57, Maria Raya-Garcia, 27, Maribel Raya-Garcia, 24, Javier Raya-Garcia, 19, Jonathan Leon, 13, Danial Garnica, 7, Mia Garnica, 5, Emily Garnica, 3, and Erica Raya-Garcia, 2.

Just four of the 14 members of the extended family gathered at the swimming hole were rescued after the flood.

One was Acis Raiden Garcia, Garnica's 8-year-old nephew from Flagstaff, who had told news media he wanted to find the man who swept him to safety. After his mother helped him track down Kelley, a meeting for the three was scheduled for next week.

The boy and his father, 29-year-old Julio Garcia, his father's wife, 28-year-old Esthela Atondo, and the couple's 1-year-old daughter, Marina Garcia, were the only ones to survive.

Questions have arisen about whether the government should or could have done more to warn the public about the dangers of floodwaters in wilderness areas.

Officials have said members of the extended family who died in the flood had no warning about the approaching surge of water.

There is no system currently in place to specifically warn people about the potential dangers of flash floods at the Tonto National Forest.

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