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12:05 AM Mon, Nov. 19th

Two men die in Golden Valley flash flood

Be wary of washes: Motorists should take heed of signs like this one reminding them to stay clear of rain-swollen washes. GVG Photo/DONNA NEWMAN

Be wary of washes: Motorists should take heed of signs like this one reminding them to stay clear of rain-swollen washes. GVG Photo/DONNA NEWMAN

GOLDEN VALLEY - Mohave County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Units urge the public to never, under any conditions, attempt to cross running washes during rains and flooding conditions.

The reminder comes in the wake of the July 24 storms that ended in the drowning death of two men. Joseph Rivera Portillo, 67, was from Golden Valley. His nephew, David R. Portillo, was from San Jose, Calif. Both were members of Golden Valley VFW Post 2555.

MCSO public information officer Trish Carter said the sheriff's office set up an emergency command center at the intersection of state Highway 68 and Estrella Road in Golden Valley on the evening of July 24, when SAR units and the Golden Valley Fire Department were deployed to assist motorists stranded in the Sacramento Wash due to heavy rains and flooding.

At about 8:30 p.m., SAR learned that two men in a red Ford pick-up truck had attempted to cross a wash at Emery Park Road and Zuni Drive north of Highway 68. Several witnesses reported that the truck started flowing down the wash and rolled multiple times with the two inside.

Witnesses said both men made it out of the vehicle and the vehicle continued downstream while David Portillo was trying to hold onto Joseph Portillo.

Witnesses attempted to help, but the floodwaters swept both men away.

When rescue workers found Joseph Portillo at about 9:35 p.m., about a mile from where the truck entered the rain-swollen wash, he was deceased.

The search continued with assistance of the Department of Public Safety Kingman Ranger helicopter through the night and into the next morning for David Portillo, who was found deceased about a mile and a quarter down the overflowing wash at about 7:21 a.m. on July 25.

SAR units also responded to three other separate rescues on July 24, involving people stranded in their vehicles.

All of those individuals were brought to safety. Two of the rescues were north of state Highway 68 on Egar Road and the third rescue was south of Highway 68 on Estrella Road.

During the rescue operations, Search and Rescue personnel came across many unoccupied, stranded vehicles.

Search and Rescue personnel asks the public to contact MCSO when they abandon their stranded vehicles during heavy rains and flooding, and provide MCSO with the vehicle's location, description and license plate number, so that officials won't have to wonder if they need to be searching for more victims in the flood waters.

Golden Valley Fire Department and MCSO issued an alert via local radio and cable television channels on July 25 for residents in the northwest portion of Golden Valley, the area where the two men had died in the rain-swollen wash the night before.

Heavy rains once again hit that area, and residents were strongly advised to avoid trying to cross any washes until the danger had passed and the flash flood waters had receded.

Road closures due to heavy rains and hail in the Golden Valley Gazette's readership area included Chino Drive east of McNeal Road, Verde Road at Redwall Drive and Egar Road in Golden Valley; South Pierce Ferry Road north of Dolan Springs from 23rd Street to Stockton Hill Road, and Gregg's Hideout Road in the Meadview area north of Kingman, as well as roads in the Butler area along Kingman's northern boundary.

Even residents who did not venture out onto the roads suffered property losses. V'le and James Roberts on Dome Road north of Agua Fria Road said fast-moving flood waters came to within six feet of their front door and washed away one of their propane tanks.

"James was ready to go out and try to save the propane tank, but I told him it wasn't safe," V'le Roberts said. "It was really bad. We could tell that people on lower ground were in for a lot of trouble."