Last week an entire Phoenix family lost their lives when a flash flood near Payson, AZ, (an hour north of Phoenix) suddenly swept through a popular swimming hole, drowning them all. Many others enjoying the cool stream barely escaped with their lives. As thousands of people in metro-Phoenix do on the weekends in the summer, this family had gone north for the day to escape the summer heat and have a day of fun and family time up on the Mogollon Rim.
This tragedy has been a top news story here in Phoenix for several days. Yesterday the entire family of 10 were laid to rest in a cemetery immediately next to the condo complex where Jennifer and I are renting during my study break.
The Paradise Memorial Gardens are just west of us.
Every morning about 5am I hop on my bike and ride through the memorial gardens to get onto the Indian Bend Wash Trail.
A couple of days of ago I noticed 10 burial vaults all lined up at the edge of the cemetery. I didn’t think much of it and only today when I read the Arizona Republic did I realize the family were buried together in the cemetery next to where we are staying. A fellow who works on the ground crew at Paradise Memorial Gardens told me this morning that the 10 vaults were all used for the family burial.
As today’s paper describes — including the sobering accompanying video of 10 hearses pulling into the cemetery, which you can view by clicking on the link — not the priest performing the funeral mass, not the Paradise Memorial staff and not the funeral director who prepared the bodies for burial, had ever participated in a burial service of this magnitude. Just try to imagine — 10 family members all memorialized and buried together in the same funeral.
This is the funeral program with the names of all the victims.
These are some of the beautiful children who died. They had no idea what was coming. None of the family members did, of course:
And this somber photo shows some of the hearses carrying the caskets that all rolled into the cemetery together:
O the deep mysteries of life…