Parents of children swept away by Arizona floodwaters plead not guilty

Parents of children swept away by Arizona floodwaters plead not guilty
Daniel and Lacey Rawlings were indicted by an Arizona grand jury, a year after two of their children and a niece died in Arizona floodwaters. (Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via AP)

GLOBE, Ariz. — A married couple whose two children and a niece drowned in Arizona floodwaters last year pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and child abuse charges on Tuesday.

Daniel Rawlings and his wife, Lacey Rawlings, were both indicted in Gila County Superior Court, KTVK reported. Daniel Rawlings was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of reckless manslaughter and seven counts of child abuse, while Lacey Rawlings was indicted on seven counts of child abuse, the television station reported.

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The couple and seven other family members were driving in an oversized, military-style truck on Nov. 29, 2019, when they got stuck in the raging waters of Tonto Creek, authorities said.

Daniel and Lacey Rawlings escaped from the truck. However, the bodies of their son, Colby Rawlings, and niece, Austin Rawlings, were found the next day, about 1,000 yards from the failed crossing. The body of another child of the couple, 6-year-old Willa Rawlings, was found Dec. 13, 2019, KSAZ reported.

Four other children who were also in the vehicle survived.

According to the Gila County Sheriff’s Office, barricades had been erected at the crossing, warning drivers of the dangers, KTVK reported.

A trial setting conference has been set for Jan. 25, 2021, according to Brad Soos of the Gila County Attorneys Office.

“It has been a tough time, a rough year,” Bruce Griffen, the attorney for Daniel Rawlings, told KTVK. “They were indicted to the day when the accident occurred.”