Labor Day Flood Stories Filled With Emotion


Christopher Creek flowed quietly beneath them as they stood on her banks to tell their story. The survivors were the essence of the event. The list of people with stories to tell was long. We started with some miraculous escapes and close calls here in the Creek. Several spoke of Heber White driving his loaded dump truck into the waters a number of times to rescue those in harm’s way. Cookie said that her companion on that day recently reminded her of grabbing the friend by the hair to pull her out of the swift waters.

The scene then shifted to the Horton, Tonto and Dick Williams creeks and descriptions of the death and destruction in that area. One woman spoke of losing one of her family members, saying, “... he was the only sibling I had.” Her raw emotion as she spoke of her loss 43 years ago stopped the show.

Marshall Trimble later confessed that he attempted to continue, but the words just would not come out.

DPS Captain Escobedo, Dist. 11 commander, shared a graphic description of the Sycamore Creek tragedy. A little known result of the investigation was the patrol car of Officer Duthie flew across the opening of the missing bridge span, his crash bar on the vehicle front impacting the end of the remaining bridge. The battery was ejected from the engine compartment and flew down the pavement. Duthie’s car then plunged into the rampaging waters.

One of the takeaways was feeling the intensity and the near-desperation in some of those who spoke as if they had carried their burden all these years and needed to lay it down. The 200, or so, folks in attendance leaned in to hear every word from those speaking. Many, well into their 80s and 90s, braved the inevitable Labor Day traffic backups to come.

Mesa residents “Big” Ed VanSant and his wife were passing through on Sunday. Ed is a retired Maricopa County sheriff’s captain. After hearing of the flood reunion, “Big” Ed and his wife returned from the Valley on Monday for the event.

The committee again would like to thank the Landmark folks for their help in staging the event.

Now, we move on to other significant recent events here in the Creek.

Last week, perhaps late Tuesday night, a wooden peace sign mysteriously appeared, mounted vertically on the top of the Demolition Derby car on display along the Loop. This act caused great concern among some members of the Christopher Creek Crash Dummies. Then, on Monday morning, it was discovered that somebody had apparently “shot-gunned” the peace sign. Where, indeed, will this all end?

Maybe this madness will all culminate on Saturday night at 7 p.m. at the Payson Event Center in the 2013 Demolition Derby. Designated drivers are at this moment being lined up ... not for our local entry “Crash in the Creek” ... but for the throng of folks from the Creek who will attend. Hang on, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!

The two-inch rain in about 30 minutes last Thursday made for one mildly humorous moment. At about 8 p.m., when the rain was starting to let up, there were eight or nine card players around the table at the Landmark. At precisely the same instant there were five or six cell phones going off at the same time. These were not those silly ringtones, but the similarly-pitched buzzing tones. Each looked at another and did one of those things, “Is that you ... not me ... must be you.” It took mere seconds for them to realize that is was the flash flood alert for this area, a product of the reverse 911 system.

Rainfall total for the monsoon topped 13.5 inches this week and that gives us 21.40 inches since the first of the year, according to Leo.

Don Farmer’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Chasidy, is my new favorite photographer. She was all over the reunion shooting with an impressive looking camera outfit. She promised me a CD of all her photos, thereby becoming my new favorite.

The 32nd annual Flatlander Party is coming up on Tuesday evening. The fliers are out with details.

Final thoughts

A memorial to the flood victims, built with stone from the four killer creeks, was proposed this weekend and a sum in excess of $1,100 was collected. My personal choice for the location of said monument is at the Tonto Bridge at or near the Kohl’s Ranch property. It was at that point 14 souls passed on their way to eternity ... and that’s another week in the Creek.


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