Parents Indicted After Allegedly Driving Around Barrier into Floodwaters, Causing 3 Kids to Drown
Daniel and Lacey Rawlings face three counts each of reckless manslaughter after he allegedly bypassed a barricade at swollen creek
An Arizona couple has been indicted after two of their children and their niece drowned when the family vehicle driven by the husband and containing seven kids allegedly went around a barricade and was swept away in a flooded creek last year.
Lacey Rawlings and her husband Daniel, who was behind the wheel of the military-style truck, each were indicted by a grand jury on three counts of reckless manslaughter and seven counts of child abuse, according to Gila County Superior Court, reports Phoenix TV station KTVK.
The incident occurred Nov. 29, 2019, after authorities had placed a barricade to turn vehicles away from the Bar X Crossing at Tonto Creek following heavy rain.
Traveling with his wife, four children and three nieces in the vehicle, Daniel Rawlings allegedly bypassed the barricade and the vehicle was caught up in the rushing water, reports KPHO.
The parents and four of the children were rescued by helicopter. The bodies of the couple’s 5-year-old son, Colby, and the boy’s cousin, 5-year-old Austin Rawlings, were recovered the following morning.
Nearly two weeks later, the body of Colby’s sister, 6-year-old Willa, was found Dec. 13 on the edge of a lake several miles away.
As searchers looked for the girl, Willa’s father told KPHO, “I will say one thing: People go around the barricades all the time. I’m not justifying my actions one bit. There could be more done.”
An attorney for the parents was not immediately identified. They have pleaded not guilty, reports AZFamily.com.
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Lacey Rawlings earlier addressed those who questioned the parents’ actions by telling KPHO, “We don’t have anything to say to them. Everybody’s a critic, and they’re keyboard warriors. Those people may not have ever gone through something tragic in their life.”
“I hope they never go through something like this and have to learn what it really feels like,” she said.
She added: “The amount of love we’ve been shown, I didn’t know it was possible. We feel it. We feel the arms wrapped around us, we feel all the prayers, we feel it all. I’m extremely grateful.”