Two San Jose men drowned at a rural Arizona creek near a waterfall where their bodies were recovered Sunday morning, a Gila County sheriff’s spokesman said.
Jainish Kumar Patel and Bhavesh Patel, 30, were reportedly lost in the water at Fossil Creek Falls in the Fossil Creek Wilderness Area around 5:15 p.m. Saturday, sheriff’s Lt. Tim Scott said.
The men were with family members and friends who told dispatchers that the pair was wading in the water, Scott said.
The group of nearly a dozen people then turned around and quickly looked back at the water, where the pair was out of sight, Scott said.
Search and rescue teams were called to look for the men but reached the scene as darkness fell, creating unsafe working conditions, according to Scott.
Two search and rescue members stayed at the wilderness area through the night and the recovery operation resumed around 6 a.m. Sunday when helicopters transported additional personnel to the remote area, the lieutenant said.
A dive team was sent into the water and found the men’s bodies around 11:15 a.m. behind a waterfall near rocks, Scott said.
The men were taken to shore and transported by helicopter to the unincorporated community of Strawberry where a funeral home took custody of the bodies, according to Scott.
The San Jose men were childhood friends and not related to each other despite sharing the same last name, Scott said.
An autopsy on the men is scheduled for Wednesday morning, according to Scott.