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Parents of children swept away in Tonto Basin facing manslaughter, child abuse charges

The parents of the children who died in Tonto Basin late last year after being swept away by floodwaters are facing manslaughter, child abuse charges.

GILA COUNTY, Ariz. — The parents of Colby and Willa Rawlings, who died last year after their vehicle was swept away in floodwaters in Tonto Basin, are now facing manslaughter and child abuse charges, Gila County undersheriff Michael Johnson told 12 News.

Daniel Rawlings is being charged with seven counts of child abuse and three counts of manslaughter, according to the Arizona Supreme Court site.

Lacey Rawlings is being charged with seven counts of child abuse.

Willa and Colby, along with their 5-year-old cousin Austin, died after their vehicle was swept away in the floodwaters in Tonto Basin after a rainstorm on Nov. 29.

The Tonto Creek was swollen with floodwaters after heavy rain on the day after Thanksgiving, causing a military-style truck with nine people in it to get stuck in the river.

Austin's and Colby's bodies were found the next day; Willa's was found on the north side of Roosevelt Lake on Dec. 13 after a weeks-long search.

The father of two of the three children who died when the vehicle they were in was swept away in floodwaters in Tonto Basin late last year has spoken out. Daniel Rawlings, the father of 6-year-old Willa and 5-year-old Colby, spoke in front of the Show Low City Council.

A bill passed in the Arizona House will fund the construction of a bridge at the Bar X crossing in Tonto Basin.

Gila County says all the prep work to build is done, including bridge design and environmental impact studies. All it needs is money to build the bridge.


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Residents in Tonto Basin call on lawmakers to build bridge, save lives

Body of 6-year-old swept away in Tonto Creek on Black Friday found at Roosevelt Lake