Mesa man survives flash flood on trail to Supai - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Mesa man survives flash flood on trail to Supai

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GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. -

It's one of the most beautiful locations on earth. But when the rain comes, Havasupai Falls, up at the Grand Canyon, can turn into a raging river of water that sweeps away anything and anyone in its path.

And a valley man almost became the fall's latest victim. Rescued from the area by helicopter after he was stranded for over 10 hours.

You're about to meet a photographer from Mesa who set out on an adventure Sunday with two friends. Their plans rapidly changed when a wall of water nearly took their lives.

"So I wanted to go back, recapture it bigger, like get more water in the front here, get more sky…"

Nicholas Pappagallo captured photos of Havasupai Falls a few years ago. But Sunday he set out to get a shot even more stunning.

"We got down to the bottom and got about a mile into the wash part and some rain started moving in."

When a downpour came, the trio took shelter in a cave, but the photographer with 25 years of experience couldn't help himself. He had to get it on camera.

"So I went out and videotaped that, and went and checked the back again and I could see way in the back, looked like a snake winding down just the middle of it."

The water just kept getting higher and higher.

"In about 4 more minutes it was like a raging river like you see on TV, with cars floating away and stuff. And then all of a sudden a helicopter kind of comes out of nowhere like literally and comes down almost blowing us off the ledge and he starts about 50 or a hundred feet over us."

The pilot was a tour guide. He spotted the flood water about 40 feet high and chose to help strangers.

"We saw this huge wall of water come down and we had, from the point that he yelled at us to the point we got up and turned around, was about a minute and twenty seconds. So if he didn't come at that point we probably would have been washed down the wash," says Pappagallo.

Nicholas and his group were fortunate to be lifted out before getting hit with the water, but two separate hikers were safely rescued from the raging river.

Sadly, 12 horses carrying hikers' gear were swept away and died. Pappagallo says he will make the hike again in May.

More photos by Nicholas: www.npappagallo.com

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