HILDALE, Utah – Over 200 members of the Hildale/Colorado City communities and beyond gathered Saturday to remember the 13 victims who died a flash floods 13 days ago.
Families and local leaders spoke, thanking the community for their support and prayers. Through music and spoken word, speakers expressed their feelings on a tragedy that has sent ripples through the entire state.
“The only thing I can remember before the flood, the water come up over the bank, is that my heart was pounding a thousand beats per minute,” said flood survivor Joseph Jessop, Jr.
Joseph Jr. is one of three survivors of that flash flood. His mother and nine siblings died. Joseph Sr. said the family is relying on their faith to get them through.
“It’s comforting to me that they all went together,” said Joseph Sr. “They’re happy doing what they love to do, caring for their children.”
Maxwell park is the place where the three mothers had spent that day with their children. It served as the backdrop for the touching memorial. Utah governor Gary Herbert also attended, and said he hopes the entire state will be able to come togehter from the tragic loss.
“Hopefully some good things will come out of this as far as us as a state, and communities of helping each other,” said Herbert. “And recognizing there’s opportunities to serve each other.”
The memorial took on an extra somber tone as speakers noted six-year-old Tyson Black, the last victim, is still missing. Even while people gathered, searchers were out looking for him.
“We still have some dog teams here working in the flood plane to try and locate him,” said Washington County Sheriff’s Detective Nate Abbott. “They’re starting to use some heavy equipment to move some debris piles.”
The FLDS communities are typically ones that shy away from outsiders, and outside help. But family and local leaders say it’s been a welcome relief, and helped them move forward.
“It’s amazing how far this has reached,” remarked Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow. “There’s been a lot of prayers, and they’re felt and they’re appreciated.”