Good Samaritans race to rescue father and son from flooded Arizona creek


A shocking video posted to social media shows the moment heroic bystanders rescued a father and his son after their Ford Explorer was caught in a flash flood.

The video shows the SUV floating down rapids at Sycamore Creek in the Tonto National Forest in Chandler, Arizona, on Sunday. Bystanders standing on a sand dune are heard whistling and speaking in Spanish.

Soon, the car flips onto its side, and a young boy pops his head out of a window, followed by two other men who stand up as the car floods.

‘Stay right there, just stay right there,’ a woman off-screen yells at them, but a few  moments later, the car flips upside down, sending the three passengers into the rushing waters.

‘Oh shoot,’ one person is heard saying, as another screams ‘the kid’ in Spanish.

A video posted to social media over the weekend shows the moment a Ford Explorer was caught in the floodwaters at Sycamore Creek in the Tonto National Forest on Sunday

The car soon overturns, and a young boy pops his head out the side, followed by two other men

The car soon overturns, and a young boy pops his head out the side, followed by two other men

The good Samaritans can then be seen running, trying to keep pace with the three as they are swept downstream. They eventually pull a young boy out of the water, but the father continues to float away. 

The men catch up with him just a few moments later, but he seems to get caught in the mud. Together, they drag him out and ask him whether he is hurt and if there is anyone else was in the car.

He replies that no one else is in his car, but says there was another man, and asks about his son before the good Samaritans could tell him his boy was safe.

They tell him to stick his hands out to the side to allow maximum airflow and ease his breathing, as the man explains: ‘All of a sudden, it got real deep, real quick.’

The man has since been identified as Aaron Franks and the boy was his 8-year-old son, Deegan. The third man also was rescued from the water that day.

A group of bystanders quickly sprang into action, running into the rapid waters to save the boy and his father, as he held onto them

A group of bystanders quickly sprang into action, running into the rapid waters to save the boy and his father, as he held onto them

His father was rescued just moments later, with a group of men pulling him out of the water

His father was rescued just moments later, with a group of men pulling him out of the water

The rescue was caught on camera by 14-year-old Zahid Mendez, who said he was at the forest on Sunday to go four-wheeling with his uncles and cousins when he noticed the Ford Explorer.

‘My first reaction was something bad might happen, because it was a really strong current,’ Mendez told Arizona Family.

He said he and his family watched as the car passed by and flipped on its side. 

‘That’s when we saw the kid, like a child come out the window,’ Mendez recounted. ‘They pushed him out the window.’

The family started tying ropes together, and jumped into the fast-moving stream.

Roberto Varela reached the father and son first, he said. ‘When I got to the dad, he was fighting to keep his son afloat,’ Varela told the local news station.

‘He didn’t care he was under the water, his whole goal was to keep his son’s head above the water’ despite drowning himself.

‘Once I got there, the dad let go of his son,’ Varela said. ‘He was exhausted.’

The boy, meanwhile was ‘terrified,’ Varela said, ‘he was like, shaking.’

A few yards down, Martin Lopez also was able to rescue Aaron Franks, who, Varela said, was ‘so exhausted he couldn’t stand.’ 

The third person, who has not been named, is reportedly in good condition. All three suffered from scratches and bruises.  

The Franks had planned to celebrate Aaron’s wife’s – and Deegan’s mother’s – birthday Sunday, enjoying a morning of fun activities, she said. They were eating some sandwiches on the side of the road, when it began to rain.

‘It was barely sprinkling, it wasn’t even full on raining,’ she told Arizona Family, ‘then all of a sudden the flash flood hits you.’

The family tried to get back into their two cars to seek higher ground, she said. Miranda Franks and their daughter were in one car, and Aaron Franks and Deegan were in a Ford Explorer.

They  encountered another group of people whose vehicle had been caught in the flash flood and were stranded. Aaron Franks tried to help them by driving one of the men to higher ground  to call for his help, Miranda said. 

But then his car was swept away.

‘I felt helpless,’ said Miranda.  ‘All I could do is hit my knees and just pray that they were going to be OK.’ 

‘I watched them go into the water,’ she told 12 News, adding that the family had walkie-talkies, which she used to calm her son down as he started floating away. 

‘I didn’t know if they were even alive.’

She said she and her daughter were rescued by a helicopter, but it wasn’t until hours later that she found out Aaron and their son, Deegan, were safe.

Miranda said she is grateful to what the bystanders – including Arturo Moroyoqui, Manuel Varela and Roberto Carlos – did for her family.

‘They have my whole heart right now,’ she told Arizona Family. ‘They didn’t know my family, but they jumped into the water and grabbed them.

‘I am so grateful; I can’t even put it into words.’

She also said she hopes nobody has to go through a similar experience, telling 12 News: ‘I pray to God that nobody has to learn the hard way as we did. If you see flash floods, just wait it out, don’t drive through it – it’s not worth your life.’

The family has now set up a GoFundMe to raise money for a new car. 

Aaron Frank's car was swept up by the current after he tried to rescue another man who was stranded in the flash flood

Aaron Frank’s car was swept up by the current after he tried to rescue another man who was stranded in the flash flood

The family has now set up a GoFundMe to raise money for a new car

The family has now set up a GoFundMe to raise money for a new car

Floods have become common in the state, with authorities finding the body of a four-year-old girl on Monday, after she was swept away in flood waters near the Cottonwood Wash area in Pima.

Helicopters also were called in to rescue people from floodwaters in Avondale and New River. 

And the search is continuing for 16-year-old Faith Moore, who  still is missing after her car got stuck in a flood near Cottonwood Saturday night.



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