Couple Whose Kids Died in Flood Hear Their Fate

Daniel Rawlings, who drove around barricade near swollen Arizona creek, and wife get probation
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2020 10:10 AM CDT
Updated Jan 28, 2022 1:37 PM CST
Dad Whose Kids Died in Flood Charged With Manslaughter
This Nov. 30, 2019, file photo shows the road closed near Tonto Creek after a vehicle was washed away by floodwaters in Tonto Basin, Ariz.   (Patrick Breen/The Arizona Republic via AP, File)

Update: The parents of two children killed after the father drove their military-style vehicle around a barricade and straight into a flooded creek in Arizona won't be serving jail time. People reports that Judge Timothy Wright sentenced Daniel Rawlings to 60 months of supervised probation and 1,000 hours of community service, while Lacey Rawlings was hit with 48 months of probation and 480 hours of community service. Their 5-year-old son, Colby, and 6-year-old daughter, Willa, died in the Nov. 29, 2019, incident, as did their 5-year-old niece, Austin. Our original story from April 2020 follows:

The parents of two kids killed in an Arizona flash flood in November have been hit with charges after those children, plus one of their young nieces, drowned in the floodwaters. A spokesman for the Gila County Sheriff's Office confirmed to People that Daniel Rawlings was charged with three counts of involuntary manslaughter, as well as seven counts of child abuse. His wife, Lacey Rawlings, was also charged with seven counts of child abuse. Daniel Rawlings was said to have been behind the wheel Thanksgiving weekend of a military-style vehicle that allegedly drove around a barricade erected to keep people from using a crossing over the swollen Tonto Creek. The vehicle got caught up in the rushing waters, and while Daniel and Lacey Rawlings managed to escape the vehicle with two of their children and two of their nieces, three children were swept away, per KPHO.

Those children were IDed as the Rawlingses' 5-year-old son, Colby; 6-year-old daughter, Willa; and 5-year-old niece, Austin. Although Daniel Rawlings said "no comment" when asked for one by KPHO, Bruce Griffen, Daniel Rawlings' attorney, tells the station his client is "disappointed" about the charges against him. Lacey Rawlings had earlier blasted "keyboard warriors" and told the outlet that people don't understand what the family is going through. "Everybody's a critic," she said, per People. As of Monday, Daniel Rawlings hadn't yet been arrested, as the coronavirus outbreak has complicated logistics, Griffen says. "Everyone recognized that Mr. Rawlings is not a flight risk," he says, adding he's not the lawyer for Lacey Rawlings. A preliminary hearing for Daniel Rawlings is set for April 21, though it's not clear if virus shutdowns will affect that date. (Read more flash floods stories.)

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