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Parents of children killed in Tonto Creek flooding to plead guilty

Tonto Basin Memorial
Posted at 4:37 PM, Dec 23, 2021

GLOBE, AZ — An Arizona couple who drove through floodwaters in 2019, resulting in the deaths of their two children and niece, is pleading guilty to charges rather than face a trial.

Daniel and Lacey Rawlings entered into plea agreements Monday, according to the Gila County attorney’s office.

Daniel Rawlings will plead guilty to three counts of manslaughter and seven counts of child abuse.

Lacey Rawlings will receive four years of probation in exchange for pleading guilty to child abuse.

Daniel Rawlings’ attorney said Wednesday the couple agreed to a plea since it could mean a sentence of probation.

The three children were swept away in the couple's vehicle in a flooded Tonto Creek.

The crossing had been closed with barricades and signs because of a storm that dropped an estimated two inches of rain in the area.

Daniel Rawlings will be sentenced in January.

The drownings have since prompted state officials to announce that $21 million will be used to build a bridge in the area, which is known for its dangerous terrain during wet weather.