Rising Flood Waters Trap Residents, Rescue Needed

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Three feet of water flowing over the bridge at East Verde Estates trapped Skip Boldt, 46, a heart transplant patient who was 21 hours overdue on his medicine, said Gila County Sheriff’s Sgt. Terry Hudgens.

Hudgens received a call for help at 4:30 Friday morning, and found snow when he arrived on the scene.

Police needed a helicopter, but the snow precluded any airborne medicine delivery at first, Hudgens said. Finally, at 7:50 a.m., the snow cleared and a helicopter delivered medicine to Boldt.

Rising creek waters also trapped a 53-year-old Blythe man last Saturday morning in the Tonto Basin area. A 2.5-ton military style truck towed Ronald L. Busby’s car after he circumvented barricades and drove his car into a flooded creek.

Police cited Busby for reckless driving, said Gila County Sheriff’s Lt. Tim Scott.

Busby reportedly decided he could cross after watching another vehicle successfully traverse the creek, but rising creek waters quickly engulfed Busby’s vehicle.

Scott said several people find themselves stuck in various crossings every year after ignoring signs and driving into the flooded Tonto Creek.

“People need to know that they are putting rescuers in danger because they decided to cross and ignore the signs we have put up,” Scott said. “The signs are up there for a reason.”

On Tuesday, water levels in the Tonto Creek rose rapidly, increasing to more than 1,100 cubic-feet-per-second by noon, said Jeannine Cheek, a public information officer with the Tonto Fire District.

The creek normally runs around 100 cubic-feet-per-second, and by Wednesday the water dropped to 500 cubic-feet-per-second. At 500 cubic-feet-per-second, Cheek said crossing is still unsafe without a four-wheel drive vehicle. By Friday, the creek flowed at 13,900 cubic-feet-per-second, and all three crossings were closed.

With additional rain to the Rim Country, crossings of the East Verde at Flowing Springs and along Houston Mesa at the first and second crossings were barricaded as of 10 p.m. Thursday.

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