Search ends for missing Payson-area couple whose truck was discovered in Tonto Creek floodwaters

The search has ended for a missing Payson-area couple after their car was found abandoned in Tonto Creek floodwaters on Wednesday, according to the Gila County Sheriff's Office.

Search and rescue crews were dispatched to the scene Wednesday morning after county authorities received a 911 call about a pickup truck found in Tonto Creek.

The vehicle was located about 100 yards downstream from the creek's crossing about 18 miles east of Payson.

The occupants of the truck, according to Sheriff Adam Shepherd, were believed to be Bear Flat residents traveling with a family pet.

Gila County authorities announced on March 23 that the couple's bodies were located, and recovery efforts are currently underway. The two have been identified as 85-year-old Phon Sutton and 72-year-old Dara Sutton.

The Suttons were reportedly returning from a veterinarian visit when the incident happened.

"They did make it to Payson to the vet. They texted family members that they were coming back and en route. When they did not show up in the evening time, family members became concerned," said Mari Gomez Robles with Tonto Rim Search and Rescue.

Investigators still don't know if the couple was swept away by fast-moving floodwaters.

"Rescue efforts in the area are complicated and extremely dangerous due to the weather conditions and flooding," read a portion of the statement. "Payson Police Department responded with their specialized vehicle to transport rescue personnel across flooded creek crossings."

Flooding caused by recent rainfall and snowmelt have created issues across parts of central and northern Arizona with residents in several low-lying communities in Yavapai County told to evacuate.

Several rescues were reported Wednesday with firefighters in Camp Verde, Cake Creek and Ash Fork all rescuing people stuck in floodwaters. No injuries were reported.

Read More: Areas of northern Arizona under evacuation orders due to severe flooding

On Mar. 23, we caught up with a family friend of the two victims.

"We wanted to go out here and help look for them, but it was probably already too late in the night, and we just couldn’t do anything," said Bill Snyder. "My condolences to the family. it’s a tragedy."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Map of area where the car was found