The bodies of two children were found Saturday, but searchers were still looking for a third child who went missing after a truck they were in was swept away while attempting to cross a runoff-swollen Arizona creek in what a sheriffâ€™s official called a â€œhorrible and tragic incident.â€
Gila County sheriffâ€™s Lt. Virgil Dodd said the first body found was of a 5-year-old boy. The second childâ€™s age and gender werenâ€™t provided in a statement released by the Sheriffâ€™s Office.
Dodd said the 5-year-old boyâ€™s body was found about 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) downstream of the crossing which had been closed hours before the truck tried to cross Friday despite barricades and warning signs.
Drivers â€œreally need to not ignore that. Itâ€™s very dangerous. Itâ€™s very hazardous,â€ Dodd said in announcing the first death. â€œIn this case, this horrible and tragic incident … thatâ€™s what happens when you ignore these types of signs.â€
The Sheriffâ€™s Office said emergency personnel and law enforcement helicopters on Friday rescued two adults and two children who also were in the military-style truck swept downstream in Tonto Creek near the small community of Tonto Basin, which is about 52 miles (83 kilometers) northeast of Phoenix.
Sheriffâ€™s officials previously said a total of six people, including four children, were rescued Friday at locations along the creek.
The people in the truck didnâ€™t live locally, Dodd said, but he didnâ€™t know the relationship between the adults and the children.
â€œWe have no information as to why they were trying to cross the creek,â€ Dodd said. â€œWe think everybody was in the cab at the time.â€
Rescue teams from multiple agencies participated in the search, and authorities brought in a bulldozer to pull the truck from the creek bed Saturday.
â€œSearchers found the truck about 1,000 yards (around 914 meters) downstream from the crossing Friday night,â€ Dodd said. â€œThere was nobody in the truck.â€
Adverse conditions included heavy brush and slippery mud along the creek and frigid water from snowmelt, but officials said they remained hopeful.
Sheriffâ€™s Deputy Phil Smith said the creek only flows during storm runoff.
A National Weather Service meteorologist said the agency issued a flood warning for the region that includes the Tonto Basin area at 8:53 a.m. Friday based on data from an upstream flooding gauge.
Meteorologist Sean Benedict in Phoenix estimated that up to 2 inches (5 centimeters) of rain fell in the area, with some of the runoff coming from snow that fell on nearby peaks.
The region got up to 4 inches (10 centimeters) of rain about a week before, Benedict said. â€œSo the grounds were already pretty wet and that probably helped with the runoff.â€
This story has been updated based on new information from law enforcement that two children were rescued on Friday, not four.