Single shoe found in search for missing 6-year-old girl swept away in Arizona creek

USA

A shoe, believed to belong to a missing 6-year-old girl who was the subject of a massive search, was recovered Sunday about 200 yards from where her family’s oversized military-style truck got stuck in a raging creek in Arizona, a published report said.

Nine family members, together for the Thanksgiving holiday, were caught up in a cascade of water caused by an intense runoff from a powerful storm Friday, The Associated Press reported. Four children and two adults were rescued by helicopter, but three children stayed in the truck, which was later swept away.

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The girl, identified as Willa Rawlings, has been missing since the incident occurred. Her 5-year-old brother and cousin were both found dead on Saturday.

“We want to bring her home safely to her family. She needs to come home today, and we’re going to do that today.” 

— Lt. Virgil Dodd of the Gila County Sheriff’s Office.

“There was a shoe in the area where there was some interest in that debris. At this time, we believe that it may belong to the little girl that we’re searching for,” he added.

More than 100 volunteers gathered near Tonto Basin, a small community northeast of Phoenix, early Sunday to help search for the missing girl, Willa Rawlings, the Republic reported.

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Volunteers, working in small groups searched through the muddy brush, heading toward the creek looking for the girl, who was wearing jeans and a purple jacket, the Republic reported.

Willa’s parents, Daniel and Lacey Rawlings, both escaped from the truck. However, their son, Colby Rawlings, and niece, Austin Rawlings, were not in the vehicle when it was pulled from the creek the next day. Their bodies were found about 600 to 1,000 yards from the failed crossing, the report said.

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The creek crossing was marked as closed with barricades and signs, authorities said.

A National Weather Service meteorologist said the agency issued a flood warning for the region – including the Tonto Basin area – at 8:53 a.m. Friday when an estimated nearly to 2 inches of rain fell in the area, with some of the runoff coming from snow that fell on nearby peaks, the AP reported.

The region received up to 4 inches of rain about a week before the incident.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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