EXCLUSIVE: Family of daughter swept away in wash speaks out

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - When Tina and George Zills got the call their 14-year-old daughter was swept away in a rushing wash, for a few moments, their world was turned upside down.

"You get that call, and your heart sinks," Tina Zills said. "And you just want to know that they're okay."

She and her husband weren't home when it happened Wednesday afternoon.

"I don't think my tires got traction the whole time because I was trying to get to her," George Zills said.

In those moments, all her mother wanted was to hear her daughters voice. And thanks to a phone call from the friend who saved her daughter, her wish came true, lifting an enormous weight off her shoulders.

"Just tell me you're okay," she told her daughter over the phone. "And she was breathing very heavily, she was crying and I kept telling her to calm down, but I knew because I heard her voice."

Their daughter ended up in the wash after getting dropped off of the school bus Wednesday afternoon. According to her parents and the local fire department, there was a "torrential downpour" that happened that afternoon. She tried to cross a flooded wash, couldn't, and ended up losing her footing and getting swept away. Someone had to save her from the water, and then she was taken to the hospital.

Regardless of how she got into the situation in the first place, her parents aren't focused on blaming anyone. It was a mistake and an accident, and they're just happy their daughter is alive.

"Knowing that she is alive -- and here -- is somewhat amazing," her father said. "Knowing that what could have happened, and of course, what did happen, but, knowing that she's here is a blessing."

Home and well now, together as a family, the Zills family is smiling together. It's been a stressful few days for them. They sit for a moment and realize how lucky they are to have their family together and say they don't want another family to have to go through what they did, or worse.

"Anytime you have a situation like this, if you can teach someone else with your good outcome, it hopefully will save many more potentially bad outcomes, and turn them into the good one that we had," her mother said.

No question it was a scary moment for the family. Now, it's becoming a teaching moment for their daughter and other children, one they hope other families will learn from.


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