Nevada teen missing in Southwest flooding

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Heavy rains in the Southwest have flooded ditches and roads, prompting a search for a missing Las Vegas-area teen and a dramatic rescue in Phoenix.

Crews resumed the search Thursday for a 17-year-old boy who somehow ended up in a drainage wash in Henderson, Nev., which had filled quickly after a morning downpour a day earlier.

Family and friends gathered to search for William Mootz, who was swept away down the flood channel Wednesday. He had been hanging out with a group of friends and apparently didn’t intend to get into the water.

“I think they were just going out there to look at the raging water in the washes,” said Henderson police spokesman Keith Paul.

Mootz went missing in the Pittman Wash, which meanders through a suburban area southwest of Las Vegas, near a shopping mall and his high school.

Family members say the incoming high school senior is a strong swimmer and has emergency preparedness experience.

Rainwater in the wash ultimately drains into Lake Mead.

More than a dozen Henderson police officers were walking alongside the wash with guidance from city public works employees who know how water typically flows down the channel.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department also was helping.

“More than anything else, it’s the use of the Metro Police helicopter that’s very helpful in searching a large area quickly,” Paul said.

City crews, meanwhile, got to work clearing brush and mud from box culverts where the wash crossed beneath roads.

“There’s 3 to 4 feet of silt and debris built up in those tunnels,” Henderson city spokeswoman Kathleen Richards said. “The mud is up to the knees of some of our searchers.”

During and after the deluge, motorists in the Henderson area found themselves stranded in deep water in city streets, with the Clark County firefighters reporting their agency alone responded to 20 calls of people stuck in their vehicles.

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