Arizona teen swept away in floodwaters before rescuers could reach her; search underway

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A massive search was underway in Arizona for a missing 16-year-old girl who was swept away in rising floodwaters during an attempted rescue Saturday night after her car became stranded in knee-high water, authorities said.

Faith Moore had called 911 at around 9:30 p.m. after her vehicle got stuck in a low water crossing in Cottonwood, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office said Sunday.

Rescue crews rushed to the scene and made visual contact with Moore. But as crews attempted to reach the teen, she was swept out of her car and downstream, authorities said.

Moore was swept away in rising floodwaters Saturday night after her car got stuck in knee-high water at a "low water crossing," authorities said.
(Verde Valley Fire District)

Officials estimated that the water only reached to Moore’s knees at the time she called for help but rose to over 8 feet within an hour.

“The two feet of water was enough to initially push the car from where the initial call came from so when you think of water to your knees, it can be deceiving but that’s a lot of pressure and a lot of energy behind that moving water,” Verde Valley Fire District Chief David Johnson told reporters Sunday.

Search teams were immediately dispatched downriver to help locate the teen. However, air support was not available for several hours due to active storms in the area. Verde Valley firefighters were also conducting numerous active rescues at the time. 

The search continued through Sunday, with more than 100 volunteers, multiple law enforcement agencies, drone teams and K-9 units playing active roles.

While Moore has yet to be located as of Monday morning, the teen’s personal belongings, including a cellphone, were found in the wash, officials said.

The search was expected to resume early Monday.

Moore is the granddaughter of the recently retired Verde Valley fire chief and the recently retired Verde Valley EMS chief, Joe and Kim Moore, and the niece of an active Cottonwood firefighter, Johnson said, adding that the family was “devastated.”

“The fact that they do have strong ties to this community, and a lot of the firefighters that were on the initial rescue worked for Joe and worked for the family, so you can understand that’s going to have an emotional effect not only on his physical family but on the fire department and public safety family because they are so entwined in this community,” he said.

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