The bodies of two people, one male and one female, were recovered from north-flowing waterways in and around Nogales on Monday, bringing the total number of suspected drowning victims found in Santa Cruz County since Aug. 21 to three.
All three of the victims – two of whom had been officially identified as of Thursday – are believed to have been swept away in Nogales, Sonora and carried across the border by runoff from a powerful downpour on the late afternoon of Aug. 21.
On Monday, the Nogales Police Department was alerted by the Nogales Suburban Fire District at approximately 2:44 p.m. that a body had been seen in the Nogales Wash in the area of Old Tucson Road and N. Grand Avenue, according to NPD Corp. Oscar Mesta.
NPD officers and Nogales Fire Department personnel responded and recovered the body of a deceased adult male from an area of the wash just north of the Arizona Department of Public Safety station.
Mesta said on Thursday that the department had not yet positively identified the victim.
At approximately the same time on Monday, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office was responding to the report of an adult female body found approximately two miles north, along a stretch of Potrero Creek that’s fed by the Nogales Wash.
Sheriff’s Sgt. Santiago Gonzales said at the time that someone who was fixing a fence spotted the body Monday afternoon and alerted authorities. The discovery came in the area of Garden View Drive, he said.
Speaking on Thursday, Gonzales said family members had identified the victim as 27-year-old Arleth Flores Lopez. He did not provide her place of residence, but media in Nogales, Sonora identified Flores as a resident of that city’s Pima 1 neighborhood.
On Aug. 21, emergency personnel in Santa Cruz County recovered the body of another male from Potrero Creek, approximately one mile north of the area where the woman’s body was found Monday.
That victim has since been identified as 50-year-old Alfredo Villarino of Rio Rico, who was reported missing by his family on Friday, Aug. 23.
“He had gone across the line into Mexico to run some errands and he never returned back,” Gonzales said.
The north-flowing Nogales Wash is fed by drainage tunnels from Nogales, Sonora as well as local runoff, and media in Nogales, Sonora reported that authorities in Mexico had received eyewitness reports that at least three people were overcome by floodwaters on the afternoon of Aug. 21 and swept into an underground drainage tunnel approximately three miles south of the U.S. border.
On Monday, emergency personnel in Sonora were reportedly searching that area for a possible fourth victim, though ho body was reported to be found.