(PAYSON, Ariz.) — The remains found near a debris-filled creek in central Arizona on Wednesday night are believed to be those of a 27-year-old man who went missing after a deadly flash flood over the weekend.
The Gila County Sheriff’s office said it located remains near the Shoo Fly Creek that are “believed to be related to the search” for Hector Garnica, who went missing Saturday after torrential rains flooded the Cold Springs swimming hole near Payson, Arizona, where he and his family were celebrating his wife’s birthday.
Garnica’s wife, Maria Garnica, and their three children — Danny, 7; Mia, 5; and Emily, 3 — were carried away and killed in the flood. Five other members of the family were also killed; four family members were rescued.
Gila County Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd called the investigation “open and very complex” at a Wednesday evening press conference where he said the remains would be examined to confirm the victim’s identity.
“We are working with the dept. of public safety to do a DNA analysis on the remains to make sure that this is the individual that we’re looking for,” Shepherd said, “and of course that being our tenth victim to this situation, Hector Garnica.”
Hector Garnica’s family announced earlier on Wednesday that funeral services for the nine relatives who died in the flood would be held early next week. Only four of the 14 family members who were swimming at the creek were rescued, officials said.
Shepherd confirmed that the family had been notified about the remains.
“We have been working with the family,” Shepherd said Wednesday. “They have been notified and we have been talking to them.”
Authorities said a Department of Public Safety helicopter crew spotted the remains on the side of the East Verde River as they were mapping out a search plan.
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