Residents of Hildale, Utah, look down a gorge created by flash flooding on Monday evening.
The Wall Street Journal
Updated Sept. 15, 2015 11:05 p.m. ET
At least 16 people were killed by flash flooding in Utah, including 12 women and children who died after a torrent of water Monday evening swept through a tiny community on the Utah-Arizona border that is home to members of a polygamous sect. The other four found dead were hikers in nearby Zion National Park. In the town of Hildale, Utah, which had been drenched with heavy rains, a surge of water came roaring out of a canyon, washing away a van and sport-utility vehicle that were filled with women and children who were returning from a city park, said Kevin Barlow, the town’s assistant fire chief. “I’ve never seen the likes of that,” Mr. Barlow said. “There are flash flood warnings almost every day during monsoon season, but this particular storm, it just came down fast and furious.” Hildale and the neighboring community of Colorado City, Ariz., are best known for being home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The towns are just over 300 miles from Salt Lake City. Television footage of the flooding showed women being rescued from vehicles while wearing the distinctive prairie pioneer dresses of the sect. Of the 16 people in the vehicles, three people were saved and one is still missing.
A flash flood hit Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, on Monday, leaving more than a dozen dead and several others missing. Photo: AP
The F.L.D.S. was led for years by Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of felony child sexual assault in 2011 and is serving a life sentence in Texas. The group split from the mainstream Mormon Church after the church rejected polygamy in 1890. Sect members settled in the twin towns, which have a combined population of about 8,000, and see the area as among the few places where they can practice their beliefs. Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow said many of the deceased were children, ranging in age from four years old to teenagers. “I’ve lived all my life here and I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said. “This is …Read More