UPDATED: Public memorial service announced for Hildale flood victims

A sign and spent candles mark the spot where a candlelight vigil was held for the victims of Hildale's fatal flash flooding, Hildale, Utah, Sept. 17, 2015 | Photo courtesy of Washington County Emergency Services, St. George News

The story has been updated with additional information with details regarding the location and available parking for the memorial service. The information comes courtesy of county officials via the Washington County Facebook page. The added details can be found below the “General event information” subtitle.

ST. GEORGE – A public memorial service will be held in Hildale this weekend to remember the victims who lost their lives in last week’s flash flooding.

The towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, announced Monday that a public memorial service will be held at Maxwell Park in Hildale at 2 p.m. Saturday.

Organizers are asking that those who attend dress in modest, formal attire. Anyone with questions about the events can contact memorial organizers at telephone 435-874-2323.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert embracing Sheldon Black, Jr. (L-R) at the Hildale City Hall. Black lost his wife and two children in Monday's fatal flash flooding. Two of Black's sons survived the flooding, while another, 6-year-old Tyson, remains missing, Hildale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert embracing Sheldon Black, Jr. (L-R) at the Hildale City Hall. Black lost his wife and two children in Monday’s fatal flash flooding. Two of Black’s sons survived the flooding, while another, 6-year-old Tyson, remains missing, Hildale, Utah, Sept. 19, 2015 | Photo courtesy of the Office of the Governor St. George News

The families will be holding their own private funeral services during the week and are asking that all respect their privacy during this time of mourning. The families also wish to express their appreciation for anyone who has helped in any way.

“It’s a positive step to have the cities decide to hold a public tribute and memorial,” Hildale resident Dee Barlow said in a message to St. George News. “There are hundreds that need closure that the church services will not provide. Our county and surrounding communities have been in mourning. The state, our nation has been touched and really affected by this epic tragedy.”

While he is happy to hear a public memorial will he held, Barlow said, he hopes that it doesn’t become a bully pulpit for any other agenda beyond remembering those who died.

Storms rolled into Southern Utah Sept. 14 and dropped heavy rains triggering flash flooding across the region that left 20 people confirmed dead.

In Hildale, where flash flooding is a common occurrence, members of the Jessop and Black families had stopped to watch flooding by the roadside when another flash flood tore through and took them by surprise. Members of the two families had been in an SUV and van and were swept away by the flood waters.

Sisters Della Black, Josephine Jessop and Noami Jessop, from left, along with other members of their families, were swept away in a flash flood in Hildale Monday. They did not survive the incident, date and location of photos unknown | Photos courtesy of Brian Johnson, St. George News
L-R: Sisters Della Black, Josephine Jessop and Naomi Jessop. The sisters along with other members of their families, were swept away in a flash flood in Hildale Sept. 14. They did not survive the incident, date and location of photos unknown | Photos courtesy of Brian Johnson, St. George News

Of the 16 people between the vehicles, three women – sisters Della Black, Josephine Jessop and Naomi Jessop – and nine children ages 4-11 were killed and their bodies have been recovered. Three boys survived. Another, 6-year-old Tyson Lucas Black, remains missing.

Gov. Gary Herbert visited with first responders and families of the victims last week and also saw the site where the two vehicles were swept away.

“You never know what tomorrow will bring,” Herbert said, “so we have to live our lives today so we’re ready to meet our Maker tomorrow.”

The search for 6-year-old Tyson was was put on hold Sunday in order to give searchers a day of a rest, although some voluntarily went out nonetheless. According to a post on its Facebook page, Washington County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue high angle / technical rapelled a section of Short Creek Sunday that had not been completely searched due to access issues and rough terrain inside the canyon itself. Further search efforts resumed Monday at 7 a.m. with K-9 teams, according to Washington County Emergency Services.

While the flooding left 12 dead and one missing in Hildale, seven canyoneers were also swept away to their deaths in Zion National Park last week. The body of a Hurricane resident thought missing was found late Thursday in the Warner Valley area of the Arizona Strip and is also believed to have been a victim of the flooding.

The following is provided courtesy of Washington County:

General event information

The memorial for the victims of the Hildale Flood is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m., in Maxwell Park, located in the northeast corner of Hildale on North Canyon Street.

Due to the remote nature of Maxwell Canyon and the limited capacity of parking at the venue, organizers are asking attendees to car pool to avoid severe traffic congestion and parking issues. Attendees should also plan to arrive early to ensure admittance to the event.

Memorial organizers are also asking that attendees dress in modest, formal attire.

Parking Information

Limited parking will be provided at Maxwell Park. Once parking at the memorial site reaches capacity, free shuttle services will be provided to attendees from overflow parking sites to the entrance of Maxwell Park. Follow the Washington County Facebook page to obtain updates on available parking Saturday afternoon.

Parking ushers will also be located throughout the Hildale community to assist with parking information, and to assist in directing traffic.

Parking along Canyon Street will not be permitted to ensure the flow of traffic remains open to the memorial site.

Memorial organizers ask that attendees remain on the main thoroughfares of Utah and Canyon Streets to reach the venue and avoid taking alternate routes through Hildale to help limit traffic congestion.

Overflow Parking

Two overflow parking sites will be available for attendees to park and ride the free shuttle to the memorial site at Maxwell Canyon Park.

Overflow parking is located at the intersection of Canyon Street and Water Canyon Road, and at the Water Canyon School located on Newell Avenue and Hildale Street.
To facilitate traffic flow, there will be no on street parking allowed on Canyon Street and Maxwell Parkway north of Jessop Avenue.

Safety Message

The weather forecast for the time of the event calls for temperatures in the high 80s. Attendees should be prepared for the warm conditions. Organizers suggest that attendees be prepared with sun protection and water.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  • native born new mexican September 22, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Glad to hear this is happening. I also think it is a positive step that they were open about where and how the bodies will be buried. ALL family members and friends deserve the opportunity to respectfully say good by.

  • me2u September 22, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    NBNM, would be nice if that were true…read the article again…Unfortunately, not
    ALL family members will get to say goodbye.

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