PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Deadly flash floods have taken the lives of the young and old. Unfortunately, it is nothing new in Arizona. You may remember the Rawlings children who were found dead in Tonto Basin in 2019. One of the searchers, a drone operator, spoke to Arizona's Family about the challenges of finding the missing after raging waters sweep them away.
It was a November nightmare at Tonto Basin when three children were swept away after a flash flood in 2019. Officials said Daniel and Lacey Rawlings drove past a barricade and into raging waters. The bodies of Colby and Austin Rawlings were found but days turned into weeks in the search for missing 6-year-old Willa Rawlings.
That's when former firefighter and Fireground Drone Works operator Eric Neitzel stepped in to help. "I flew for a good week and a half, two weeks pretty much cycling drones," said Neitzel. "I was there until the end, until they found her."
Neitzel said it was physically and emotionally exhausting as it was a strenuous search met with challenges. "Coordinating with other people is one of the big challenges," said Neitzel. "And just the unknown, where is this person at."
The search Faith Moore more started with boats, but with the Verde River receding, crews in kayaks have been deployed as the operation enters its fourth day.
Stormy weather and rough terrain were issues also seen in Cottonwood, where crews are searching for 16-year-old Faith Moore, who was swept away over the weekend. Neitzel said he learned a lot from his search in the White Mountains but is holding out hope for Moore. "There is always hope and that's what you cling to. It keeps you going," said Neitzel. Daniel and Lacey were charged in the deaths of the three children and pleaded not guilty.