The scene plays on a loop in Carl Cameron’s mind — that scene is the memory of his friend floating down a flooded creek towards his death.
“It’s the most helpless I’ve ever felt in my entire life,” Cameron said.
The victim, 59-year-old Robert Kind, visited Cameron’s home Monday night, which is located north of Camp Verde in Yavapai County.
The only way out of Cameron’s neighborhood is a small bridge over the Beaver Creek, which flooded overnight Monday and into Tuesday.
Kind’s 17-year-old son needed to use the family SUV to get to school Tuesday morning, Kind’s ex-wife, AJ Kind, said. That necessity led Robert to leave Cameron's home early Tuesday.
Minutes after leaving the home where he was visiting AJ and Carl, Robert called AJ.
He told her “that he went in the river and that he was floating away,” AJ said.
AJ and Carl ran to the water’s edge, and saw Robert’s SUV about 40 feet away.
“There’s nothing anyone could do,” AJ said.
Asked if she would have died in a rescue attempt, AJ said, “Oh, yeah, definitely.”
The water took Robert’s SUV downstream, and after his 12-minute phone call for help, the phone cut out, AJ said.
Robert’s body was found Tuesday afternoon.
“I just have this big, empty question mark, like this big open hole inside my heart,” AJ said. “How do you close that?”
Robert’s diabetes left him with poor eyesight, AJ said. That, and his mission to get the SUV home to his son, Bobby, likely made Robert take the chance with the water.
“Bobby is everything to [Robert],” AJ said.
“He didn’t want to disappoint him” by not getting the SUV home in time for school, AJ said.The family SUV now sits among tree branches, near a still-swollen Beaver Creek at the bottom of a cliff off I-17 north.
AJ is raising money to help Robert’s son purchase a new vehicle and help defray the victim's funeral expenses.