TONTO BASIN, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Gila County Sheriff's Office doesn't believe crews will find 6-year-old Willa Rawlings alive days after her family's military-style truck got stuck in a flooded Tonto Creek.
"We would love to keep this hopeful, but because of the circumstances, we are considering it now a search and recovery," Lt. Virgil Dodd with GCSO said.
[CONTINUING COVERAGE: Tonto Basin Tragedy]
The search came and went on Wednesday with no sign of the girl. About 100 volunteers searched for her along with first responders. Crews used boats and sonar equipment to search a 2-mile stretch of water. Teams also used drones and search canines. A pair of pants found Tuesday were identified as belonging to her.
"We just want to find her for the family to get some closure," said Dodd.
On Thursday, crews will have a new plan to look for her. They'll start using new technology, a robotic rescue boat called EMILY, which stands for Emergency Integrated Lifesaving Lanyard. It works on land and in the water. Volunteers hope EMILY can help find Willa.
"It would mean the world for the people," said volunteer John Spencer. "It's heartbreaking. It’s hard."
A big issue crews have had with this search is there's a lot of debris and weeds. The new sonar equipment can dive into vegetative areas under water. EMILY can locate an object, and you can see everything the boat is seeing in real time. The Gila County Sheriff's Office is borrowing the device from the Navy. The device operator said it's been used four times in Arizona. Three of those times it was successful in finding what crews were looking for.
"We’re holding up because we got to be tough," said Spencer. "That’s just the kind of people we are, here to help the family."
Rain chances mean Thursday's search could be tough. The Sheriff's Office wants volunteers to know they should stay out of the water while they search.
"It’s just too rough of water," said Spencer. "It’s swift. There’s no way nobody could even swim in it."
Willa was one of nine family members in the truck on Friday. The bodies of her 5-year-old brother, Colby, and 5-year-old cousin, Austin, were found Saturday. Her parents, Daniel and Lacey Rawlings, and four other children were rescued. The crossing had been closed with barricades and signs because of a storm that dropped an estimated 2 inches of rain in the area.
A memorial service for Austin Rawlings was scheduled for Friday afternoon at a church in Peoria, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the girl's family.