Search for missing 6-year-old girl in Arizona creek now a recovery mission
TONTO BASIN, Ariz. - The search resumed Thursday for a 6-year-old girl missing since being swept away in a rural Arizona creek during a rainstorm.
Searchers continued into the night to comb a 2-mile stretch of water with boats and sonar equipment for any sign of Willa Rawlings, Gila County Sheriff's Lt. Virgil Dodd said.
While the boat looked thoroughly down Beaver Dam and down to the lake, it unfortunately didn't register anything that would require divers to further investigate. On one hand, it narrows down the search a bit, but on another, it's still frustrating for law enforcement and volunteers looking for the little girl.
Teams also used drones and search canines to go through debris. A pair of pants found Tuesday were identified as belonging to her.
Dodd said an afternoon forecast of rain could hamper the search, but thankfully that didn't end up happening. Showers would have lead to an influx of water in the creek, decreasing visibility and making the ground much more slippery.
The girl was one of nine family members in a military-style truck that became stuck Friday while trying to cross Tonto Creek. The bodies of her 5-year-old brother, Colby, and 5-year-old cousin, Austin, were found Saturday. Her parents, Daniel and Lacey Rawlings, and four other children were rescued.
Officials said Wednesday that the search is now a recovery mission.
The crossing had been closed with barricades and signs because of a storm that dropped an estimated 2 inches of rain in the area.
A memorial service for Austin Rawlings was scheduled for Friday afternoon at a church in Peoria, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the girl's family.
Willa Rawlings (Ashley Doubt & the Rawlings Family)