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Arizona couple narrowly escapes off-road flash flood

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 12:14 PM CDT
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PHOENIX (KPHO/KTVK) – All across the state, summer storms have caused significant flooding, filling roads and washes with floodwaters.

A Scottsdale couple found out the hard way just how quickly you can end up in the middle of a flash flood, even though they believed they had taken every precaution while off-roading near Sycamore Creek on Sunday.

“It came so quick,” Richard Chavez said. “Hit the tires, and as soon as it hit the tires it went into my engine.”

Chavez said as soon as it started raining, the couple decided to head back. But they started recording video as water rushed over the road they came in on.

With their only escape route now blocked by fast-moving water, Chavez said he felt trapped.

“I go off-roading a lot and I go off edges, but that I wasn’t prepared for, wasn’t trained,” he said. “I actually got scared. I never get scared when I go off-roading but that shook me up.”

Capt. Tom Taylor with the Phoenix Fire Department said it’s important to know what you’ll be facing before heading off-road.

“Do your research if you’re going to be going out, especially recreationally, camping or four-wheeling,” he said. “See ... what the weather prediction is.”

Despite the surprise, Taylor said the couple did the right thing by leaving the canyon once it started to rain and seeking higher ground.

“Turn around if you can if that’s at all possible. If you’re stuck in the water, get to higher ground,” he said.

“I think just a foot to two feet of water is enough to wash just about any vehicle off a road, so they were on a dirt road there, so that’s an even worse situation.”

One thing Taylor said people have a hard time grasping during flash floods is that it’s not just about water being washed through the valley. There are also broken branches and debris, like furniture and metal trash cans.

Chavez said he’ll never forget the experience.

“It’s something my dad always told me to be careful about, and I finally experienced it, which I’ve seen on videos and stuff, but I never thought I would drive right into one.”

Copyright 2021 KPHO/KTVK via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.