Flash Flood Deaths in the Tucson Area

The list include deaths that have taken place in Tucson, Pima County, and Southern Arizona locations. This is not a complete list.

  • July 16, 2017: Ten members of a family who had been celebrating a birthday were killed by a flash flood at a popular swimming area inside Tonto National Forest. Those killed were Celia Garcia Castaneda, 60; Hector Miguel Garnica, 26; Maria Raya-Garcia, 26; Maribel Raya-Garcia, 24;  Javier Raya-Garcia, 19; Jonathan Leon, 13; Danial Garnica, 7; Mia Garnica, 5; Emily Garnica, 3; Erica Raya-Garcia, 2.
  • July 19, 2008: Roy J. Harris drowned when he was swept into a drainage pipe connected to the Bronx wash. His skeletal remains were found March 15, 2009 in the Santa Cruz river bed south of Cortaro Road. (Marana.)
  • August 4, 2007: Timothy Hahn, 24, and Angela Knoche, 19, drowned in Sabino Canyon. 
  • July 31, 2007: Adalberto Padilla 60 drowned in the Rodeo wash.  His vehicle was swept away near South Park Avenue and East Irvington Road.
  • September 7, 2006: Louie Matus, 44, drowned in the Rodeo wash near East Irvington and South Fletcher Avenue.
  • September 7, 2006: Authorities reported that the body of a man washed up along the running Santa Cruz River on the city's northwest side.
  • August 14, 2005: Angel De La Cruz, 3, drowned in a flooded wash near Three Points.
  • August 2, 2005:  Princess Guadalupe “Amisha” Moreno, 1, drowned on the Tohono O’odham reservation. 
  • August 14, 2003: Jim Huntington, 60, drowned when a flash flood hit his home. His body was found in the Campo Bonito Wash northeast of Oracle.  He was the publisher of the monthly newspaper, “The Oracle.”
  • July 31, 2001:  John Yundt Jr., 14, was playing in a culvert and got swept away.  He died on August 3, 2001. The wash he drowned in was located near South Campbell and East Irvington Road.
  • February 15, 1998: Anton Bakker, 21, was swept over the Tanque Verde Falls when he drowned while trying to save a friend’s dog that was caught in the current.
  • August 11, 1995:  Margaret Krieski, 43, drowned in a wash at East Stella Road, about a half mile southwest of East Golf Links and South Kolb roads.
  • July 20. 1990: "A Tucson man was killed when he fell 40 feet over a waterfall in the Tanque Verde Falls area."
  • July 26, 1981: 8 people drowned in flash flood at Tanque Verde Falls. They were Michele Margaret Balser, Ralph Leroy Chatam, 27, Ronald Clark, 19, Jeffrey Fieffer, 28, John Anthony Parker, 19 Darla Roberson, 18, Michal Waid, 11, and Paul Anthony Waid 33,
  • August 9, 1945:  Ten people died when the three mile bridge on Benson highway washed out.  This happened southeast of Tucson near Julian wash. Four cars plunged off the roadway into a flooded arroyo.


"Clues, not falls’ beauty spurs searchers." Arizona Daily Star. July 29, 1981. Page 1.

"Flow sensors needed at Bear Canyon." Tucson Citizen. August 10, 2007. Page B1.

"No warning of flood hazard." Tucson Citizen. July 26, 2008. Page 1.

"Rodeo Wash victim 'didn't deserve to die like that." Arizona Daily Star. Page B1.

"Searchers Discover 3 bodies in stream." Arizona Daily Star. July 31, 1981. Page 1.

Teibel, David L.. "Flood victims were lifesavers - Tucson Citizen Morgue (1992-2009)." Tucson Citizen - The Voice of Tucson.

"Top 10 weather/water/climate stories to impact the Tucson metro area during the 20th century" | National Weather Service - NWS Tucson

"Southeast Arizona Flood History" | National Weather Service - NWS Tucson. National Weather Service - Western Region Headquarters.

"Arizona flash flood kills 9 relatives celebrating birthday, opens a new window." July 17, 2017.

"Mourners gather for Mass of 10 family members who died in flood, opens a new window." Tucson.com. July 25, 2017.