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Texas Vacationers Killed in New Mexico Flood

National

Jane and Chris Cummings | Image by KFDA

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The third member of a Texas family who went missing in a New Mexico flash flood was found dead on Tuesday.

The body of Chris Cummings, 62, was found and retrieved on July 26; he was the last of the three victims, who hailed from Hale County, Texas, to be located after they were killed on July 21.

Jane Cummings, 62, and her mother, Betty Greenhaw, 84, the other two victims, were found dead in the Tecolote Creek channel on July 21.

The San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the deaths of the two women on July 22, but the victims’ names were not released. Michelle Post, the Cummings’ daughter, confirmed that her mother and grandmother had died on July 21. She stated that her father, Chris Cummings, was missing.

Post said that her family had a cabin in the Tecolote Canyon on the property of Camp Blue Haven.

On Thursday of last week, the National Weather Service asked the residents of the area, including Mora County and San Miguel County, to take caution, warning that high rainfall over the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon burn scar could lead to localized flash flooding.

Post said her family was warned of the possible flash flooding but did not imagine such a tragedy could happen so quickly. She said the flood destroyed the cabin within minutes.

Betty Greenhaw’s son, Greg Greenhaw, said the cabin, their family vacation and holiday home for over 60 years, had experienced low-level flooding before, which caused minimal damage. So they took the precaution of placing heaps of sandbags against the cabin for safety, but they were unprepared for 8 feet of water.

Post said at the time of the flood, the only people in the house were her parents and grandmother. She added they were in “their favorite place in the world,” spending time with family.

A man from a neighboring family that lives 100 yards up the mountain told Post that he heard water rushing. When he looked toward the Greenhaw cabin, he saw that water had already risen to cover the entire front door.

The staff of Camp Blue Haven heard about the flooding and began searching for the family. They found Greenhaw’s truck approximately half a mile away and thought the family could have tried to flee in the vehicle, but they realized that the truck doors were still locked.

They found Jane about 4 miles from the cabin and 2 miles from the Blue Haven Camp. Betty was half a mile from the cabin, while Chris’ truck was buried outside it. Post said the investigators updated her constantly while searching for her father.

Greg’s grandmother signed a 100-year lease in 1965 when Camp Blue Haven leased out plots to fund the camp. Post said most of her cousins were baptized at the camp, and her son was camping there just two weeks prior.

Between the two canyons, 60 cabins once stood, but 25 of them burned down during the Hermit’s Peak-Calf Canyon Fire.

After the flooding, members of Post’s family traveled to New Mexico to gather the remaining belongings.

Her family is devastated, Post said, but she is thankful to her community for supporting them, precisely the people in Plainview, Hale Center, Lockney, and New Mexico.

Post’s church family and her son’s teachers have also delivered meals and helped them through this trying period. Thankful, Post said, “God is good.”   

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