13-year-old boy drowns near Arizona waterfall

NOGALES, Ariz. — A 13-year-old boy died after being swept away in a current near a waterfall in southern Arizona on Thursday, authorities said.

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According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office, the body of Samuel Gonzalez was recovered by a helicopter crew at approximately 1 a.m. MST, Nogales International reported.

Lt. Gerry Castillo, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, called the incident the result of a flash flood, the newspaper reported.

According to authorities, Gonzalez and a 17-year-old boy were in the water in the Josephine Canyon in Rio Rico, KGUN reported. Officials said the older teen was able to pull himself to safety and a helicopter with Santa Cruz County Search and Rescue carried him to safety, KVOA reported.

The waterfall is a popular hangout spot, Castillo told Nogales International. The site is not developed or managed as a recreation site, and county records show that it is located on private property, the newspaper reported.

The area experienced heavy rainfall on Thursday evening, apparently leading to floodwaters that struck the area before 8 p.m., officials said.

Desiree Moreno, Gonzalez’s stepsister, told Nogales International in a Facebook message that the teen was kind and down-to-earth, and could “light up a room in a matter of seconds.”

“It’s hard for the family, it’s hard for the community,” Castillo told the newspaper. “We haven’t had a loss like this in a long time.”


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