TONTO BASIN – On December 13, 2019 at approximately 2:24 p.m. the body of 6-year-old Willa Rawlings was recovered from the area of Indian Point on the north side of Roosevelt Lake on the Tonto Creek Arm. Gila County Sheriff’s deputies have been searching for Willa for two weeks after her family’s military-style vehicle was swept away by flooding in Tonto Creek on Black Friday.
“As we come to the close of this search, rescue, and recovery mission we would like to thank the multiple agencies that assisted and the community support. Members from the Tonto Rim Search and Rescue, other agencies and citizens spent days searching. Local churches, citizens and restaurants provided water, snacks and meals for those working and searching,” Gila County Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd said on Facebook.
Willa’s parents, Daniel and Lacey Rawlings, escaped from the vehicle with four children. Colby Rawlings, Willa’s brother, and her cousin, Austin Rawlings, both 5, were found dead on Saturday, November 30.
The Bar X Crossing had been closed with barricades and signs at the time the family attempted to cross the swollen creek. A storm that dropped an estimated two inches of rain in the area causing the closure.
“It is at times like this that I am proud to live in and serve this county. The outpouring of support demonstrates how we come together in times of need to assist and support each other. 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. As this concludes this operation this event will have a lasting effect on all of us,” Sheriff Shepherd said in his Facebook post.