Children disappeared after being swept away by floodwaters in Arizona

Nellie Chapman
December 3, 2019

Three children were missing on early Saturday.

Tonto Basin is about 52 miles (83 kilometers) northeast of Phoenix.

A man and four children managed to get out of the vehicle and were rescued by a helicopter while a woman was found on shore, but the three other children were lost in the floodwaters and could not be recovered, police said.

A third child, a six-year-old girl, remained missing on December 1, local reports said.

Two children are dead and one is missing after floodwater swept their vehicle in Arizona's Tonto National Forest, authorities said Saturday.

A search by rescue helicopters is underway for a girl who is still missing, Virgil Dodd said.

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The missing children were riding in a vehicle with the two adults and four rescued kids, but it's unclear how they are all related, according to the report.

Dodd said the family had been trying to cross the creek, despite barricades and warning signs being posted, in what he described as a "horrible and tragic incident". Among those children, a boy and a girl about five years old were found dead on Saturday.

Volunteers trudged in small groups through the muddy brush to search for the missing girl, who was last seen wearing jeans and a purple jacket.

NWS Meteorologist Sean Benedict in Phoenix estimated that up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain fell in the vicinity area, with some of the runoff coming from snow that fell on nearby peaks. "Therefore, the grounds were already quite humid and that probably helped with the runoff".

The girl, Willa Rawlings, is one of three children left inside the family's truck when authorities say it was flooded.

Adverse conditions included thick weeds and slippery mud along the stream and ice water from the thaw, but authorities said they were hopeful.

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