TUCSON, Ariz. (CN) – The families of three drowned men claim that officials with the Tohono O’odham Nation failed to warn drivers that a late summer rainstorm had flooded a wash.
Lester Antone, David Narcho and Harrington Narcho died when flash flood waters carried away a Ford Bronco whose driver had tried to cross a flooded wash.
The victims’ families say there should have been lights, barricades and warning signs around the wash after a “significant rainstorm” in August 2008.
The wash is near the Indian reservation’s capital of Sells, about 60 miles southwest of Tucson.
“As [the driver of the Bronco] attempted to cross the St. Mary’s Wash at a point near St. Mary’s Catholic Church, a wash that he had to cross in order to get to Basha’s food store, he failed to notice that the wash was filled with torrential water from the rain ‘until the last second,'” the families claim in Federal Court. “The force of the current pulled the vehicle into the wash and swept the Bronco down the wash.”
The driver and a 10-year-old boy survived the ordeal, but the three passengers drowned, according to the complaint.
There were “no warning signs, no street lighting, barricades, flares or any type of traffic control device to warn motorists of the dangerous conditions that existed in the wash,” the lawsuit states.
The families sued the United States for negligence, seeking unspecified damages.
They are represented by Richard Gonzales of Tucson.