Couple plead guilty after driving through flood leads to deaths of 3 kids

An Arizona couple struck a plea deal on charges related to the deaths of three children who were killed when the pair tried to drive through floodwaters in 2019, a report said.

Daniel and Lacy Rawlings were slapped with charges after they ignored barricades and tried to plow a military-style truck over the Tonto Creek near the border with New Mexico.

The couple and other family members had to be rescued, but the truck was swept away and two of their children and a niece drowned.

Daniel, who was driving, will plead guilty to manslaughter and child abuse charges, while Lacey will please to child abuse charges, The Associated Press reported.

The couple, who were set to go on trial in March, would have faced mandatory time behind bars if found guilty and instead entered plea negotiations on the possibility they can be sentenced to probation, their attorney told the AP. The couple has “surviving children that they are responsible for, so their eggs are all in one basket,” attorney Bruce Griffen said.

The Rawlings tried to cross the surging Tonto Creek after heavy rains on Nov. 20, 2019, but never made it across. The couple and seven children were on board as the truck became stuck and submerged. 

Daniel and four children were able to get onto a small island in the creek and Lacey was rescued from the shore but the three young children were swept away in the waters. Rescue workers recovered the bodies of daughter Willa, 6, son Colby, 5, and niece Austin, 5, in the days after the incident.

The tragedy sparked a $21 million federal grant that will build a bridge over the creek, where eight people have died in failed crossing attempts since 1995, according to the AP.

With Post wires