Monsoon Claims a Life: TFD responds to vehicle in wash, vehicle swept away

The monsoon claimed a life Monday morning after the vehicle of an adult female was swept downstream after being stuck in a residential wash, with the female trapped inside.   The initial Tucson Fire unit arrived at East Calle Betelgeux and South Avenida Ursa for reports of a car in the wash at 9:31 A.M..  They initially could not see a vehicle in the residential.  A bystander pulled up next to them and advised them that the car was pinned against a pedestrian bridge completely submerged.  The crew immediately began getting equipment for a rescue when the car was pushed under the bridge and swept downstream.  Firefighters were able to see one person in the vehicle as it was swept downstream.  The car completely submerged and disappeared under the water.  All incoming units were advised as to the change and placed downstream at different locations.  The water level in the wash was upwards of 12 feet in depth and moving rapidly.  TFD personnel continued looking for the vehicle and approximately 30 minutes later the water level receded and the vehicle was located at 22nd Street and the Alamo Wash, pinned against the concrete tunnel along with several trees and other debris.  The vehicle ended up approximately three blocks downstream from the initial sighting.  Water levels continued to recede and TFD personnel were able to access the vehicle and confirm that one person was in the vehicle but deceased.  The adult female, in her 50’s, was removed from the vehicle and Tucson Police were on scene handling the notifications for next of kin.

During the monsoon season, washes can rise very quickly. Here are some tips for safety:

  • Most flash flood deaths occur in vehicles
  • Moving water 1-2 feet deep will carry away most vehicles and can knock a person off their feet
  • Keep children away from creeks and washes when heavy rain is in the area
  • Be especially careful at night when water depth and road conditions are harder to see