The Slatest

Fatal Flash Floods Strike Controversial Sect’s Town on Utah-Arizona Border

Residents of Hildale, Utah, survey flood damage on Tuesday.

David Becker/Reuters

At least nine people have died and four others are missing after a flash flood struck two vehicles in a southern Utah town known for being dominated by the “Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints” sect once led by imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs. The town of Hildale, Utah, was hit by heavy rains Monday, creating a current of water that swept through a canyon and into two vehicles carrying a total of 16 people. From USA Today:

Six of the fatalities were located in Utah and two in Arizona, almost 2 ½ miles downstream.

The victims were from several families and included women and small children, the youngest of which was 4, Barlow said. All were from the Colorado City and Hildale area on the Utah-Arizona border.

The flood created a 50-foot gorge in Hildale, Reuters says.

Hildale and Colorado City, Arizona, are home to roughly 7,000 residents and were reportedly settled in the 1920s and 1930s by “F.L.D.S.” adherents. Warren Jeffs, who was written about extensively in Jon Krakauer’s book Under the Banner of Heaven, inherited control of the F.L.D.S. in 2002 after the death of his father, Rulon. The younger Jeffs was sentenced to life in jail in 2011 after he was convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old.