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Hikers help each other out of dangerous flash floods in Sabino Canyon

Posted at 9:55 PM, Jul 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-25 01:16:33-04

Multiple people were gripping for their lives on Sunday as waist high water in Sabino Canyon pounded on their body.

Just a couple of feet away, strangers lifted kids out of the water.

Andrew Bohme has hiked for over 15 years and says to always check the weather where you are hiking and the surrounding area.

"If you notice a change in the water level, you know you are hiking along a creek and you notice it rising up six inches even that is a good sign the water level is going to change again," he said. "Usually, it changes a little bit and then a lot."

He says Sabino and Tanque Verde Canyon are box canyons, meaning the walls of the canyon are so steep making it hard for people to get out in the case of an emergency.

"It takes very little water to actually sweep you off your feet about a foot water traveling seven miles per hour is enough to push you over," he explained.

He says sometimes a flash flood can happen in a matter of seconds.

"If there is a wave coming down the canyon, it can change the wind as well and you can feel sort of a breeze all of a sudden so if you feel a breeze chances are something is changing up above the canyon," he said.

The Southern Arizona Rescue Association says always have an escape route, be mindful of the water levels, and know that flash floods are not just water.

"It has debris in it like logs, driftwood from upstream, pieces of garbage, rocks boulders things are coming down so it is basically this churning mess of things that can easily kill a person," said Shelley Littin with SARA. 

Hiking experts advise to never hike during the Monsoon or when you know there is a chance for a storm.