One year later, the family of Hector Garnica remembers him, his wife, and three young children who were all killed in a deadly flash flood in Payson.
“It’s been 365 days, but for us, it still feels like it was yesterday,” said Luz Flores, Garnica’s mother.
On the anniversary of that day, the family attended mass and prayed for their loved ones before gathering at Buffalo Chip Saloon and Steakhouse in Cave Creek, a place that had a lot of memories of Hector.
Flores says Hector had spent many years at the restaurant. He would go help his dad at the age of nine.
His dad worked on the grounds. Hector grew to love it so much, Flores said, he got a job there.
Flores says Hector met his wife Maria in high school. The two were high school sweethearts. She says Hector was loyal to his family and did everything for his kids. She says he was a hard worker, a loveable person, who brought laughter and joy to everyone, and his priority was his family and kids.
For this family, July 15, 2017, still feels like yesterday and the family says it hasn’t been easy.
“There are sad moments, we've cried, but we try to remember them with joy because he never wanted to see us sad,” said Flores.
The family now tries to live their lives the way Hector did.
“This is what he would’ve done, this is what he would’ve liked, he would’ve liked having fun,” said Carla Garnica, Hector’s sister.
Carla said no matter where they go or what they do, Hector is always with them and at every family function, there is a memory that makes them laugh.
“What we really miss about him in each birthday, oh my God! He would throw us in the cake!” said Carla.
The family says it is difficult to live without Hector, but Flores is thankful to God that his family is together in Heaven.
“He was never without his family,” she said.
She adds had he lived the pain would’ve been too strong for Hector. As much as she wishes he was here, she says, she glad to know he’s with his family.
That tragic day changed their lives forever. Garnica says she doesn’t take rain lightly these days.
“I don’t want to go out during monsoon season,” Flores said.
She said any rainy weather reminds her of that tragic day.
“Every storm, every alert that we get on our phone, we think about everything that happened,” she said.
August 2017, was the last time the family visited the site where the family died. It was to celebrate Hector’s birthday. While they have seen more flood warning signs, they still wish more could be done to warn people of the dangers in the area.
As time goes on, they wonder how Hector’s life and the life of his family could've been saved.
Today, they hope more people will take the monsoon seriously and think twice before testing Mother Nature.
“What happened to us could happen to any other family out there, we just want to tell them to be careful,” added Garnica.