Chandler man survives Payson flash flood that claimed 9, 1 still missing
Posted July 18, 2017 10:37 a.m. EDT
Chandler, AZ — "If I make it out of this alive."
With his GoPro camera rolling, 36-year-old Brandon West from Chandler wasn't sure he was going to make it after Saturday's flash flooding near Payson, which claimed nine lives.
West, a friend, and dog "Lucky" decided to head up north for a swim to beat the heat, not realizing a day in the water would soon take a dangerous turn.
With just seconds to reach, West saw a vicious current of black water carrying ash and tree limbs along with it. That water was heading right to them.
"You make the wrong step, and you get sucked under, you just pray you make the right decision," West explains.
With his dog hoisted onto his shoulders, Brandon made his way through the black water. Lucky, taking the brunt of the current. Eventually, the current overpowered them, sweeping them downstream and sent them crashing into three different waterfalls.
"At that point, I was just so physically exhausted, I couldn't hold onto him anymore...and he ripped from my arms."
Disoriented, banged up, and still in shock, Brandon somehow made his way to a rock. Moments later, realizing against all odds, Lucky was also able to swim to safety.
Lucky, now living up to that name now more than ever. He has a few cuts and bruises to match Brandon's, but it's nothing these two can't heal from.
West just wishes those nine others got the same second chance he did.
"I don't want to seem ungrateful for being alive, I just wish they were too."
West tells ABC15 he's hoping to help organize an event to benefit the families of the nine victims.