Bodies of men who drowned at Fossil Creek recovered: sheriff

The bodies of two men who authorities say drowned at Fossil Creek in the Coconino National Forest have been recovered.

The Gila County Sheriff's Office says they received 911 calls at 6 p.m. on May 8 about one or two men who entered the water at lower Fossil Creek and never resurfaced.

When first responders got to the scene, witnesses reported seeing two men getting into the water near the falls. 

Crews stayed overnight at the scene searching for the men. On Thursday morning, two bodies were found by divers.

The victims have been identified as 23-year-old Rakesh Reddy Lakkireddy and 25-year-old Rohith Manikanta Repala, both students at ASU who graduated from the Fulton School of Engineering.

What we know:

Sergeant Cole LaBonte with the Gila County Sheriff's Office said a group of people were standing on a peninsula and slipped into the water. 

While they did supposedly have life-jackets, it's unclear if they knew how to swim.

"They inadvertently got into a position that exceeded their skill level by slipping into the water," LaBonte said. "The water was a lot deeper than they thought."

Two fire departments, including the Tonto Rim Search and Rescue team responded to the scene.

"It's a really remote area with rugged terrain and there is about an 8/10 of a mile hike into this area," he said.

This event marks the first two drownings at Fossil Creek this year.

Map of Fossil Creek