Body of last of 3 missing children found after Arizona flood

The bodies of the other two were found the day after the vehicle they were riding in was washed away.
Image; Helicopter, three missing
Helicopter picks up stranded passengers in Tonto Creek in Arizona, on Nov. 29.Courtesy Danise Ransier Parrish

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By Phil Helsel

The body of the last of three missing children swept away in a flooded Arizona creek last month was found Friday, the Gila County sheriff said.

The bodies of two of the three children had previously been found after the vehicle they were in was washed away in floodwaters following heavy rain Nov. 29. Four other children and two adults were rescued from an island and from the shore, the sheriff’s office has said.

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The body was confirmed to be that of Willa Rawlings, Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd said in a statement Friday evening. NBC affiliate KPNX of Phoenix reported that Willa was 6 years old.

The bodies of the other two children, both 5 years old, were found a day after the mishap, the sheriff’s office said.

Shepherd on Friday thanked the many agencies that assisted in the search and rescue operation, as well as the community for its support.

"My condolences and prayers go to the Rawlings Family, who have lost three young children and I am grateful we were able to find Willa today," the sheriff said. "As this concludes this operation this event will have a lasting effect on all of us."

The family had been in the area to attend a family reunion, the station reported. They were trying to cross the overflowing Tonto Creek in a military-type vehicle because there is no bridge, according to KPNX.

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said earlier this month that he will work to find the money in next year’s budget to help build a bridge over the creek, The Associated Press reported.

At the time of the accident, the Arizona Department of Transportation reported that heavy rain and snow had caused roadways across state to close on Thanksgiving.