Two five-year-old children have been confirmed dead and another is still missing after their family’s ‘military-style’ truck was swept into a creek while they were trying to cross during heavy flooding.

Nine members of the same family got stuck in their vehicle in a raging creek swollen by intense runoff water from a powerful storm in Tonto Creek, Arizona, on Friday.

Four children and two adults managed to get out and were rescued by helicopter, but three children were still inside the truck when it was swept away by the flooded creek.

Family members confirmed the identities of the three children to FOX TEN as Colby and Austin Rawlings, both five, who were found dead and six-year-old Willa Rawlings who is still missing.

Willa’s parents, Daniel and Lacey Rawlings, both escaped from the truck but the bodies of their son, Colby, and niece, Austin, were found about 600 to 1,000 yards from the failed crossing the next day.

Austin is the daughter of Daniel’s brother, Jay Rawlings.

Officials say one adult managed to swim to shore, while four children and one adult who were stranded on an island in the creek were airlifted out of the area by rescue crews.

The family had been together for the Thanksgiving holiday when their oversized truck became stuck in the creek.

Rescuers with helicopters, drones, boats, dogs and an army of volunteers searched frantically on Sunday for the couple’s daughter, six-year-old Willa, who has been missing since Friday.

Lt Virgil Dodd of the Gila County Sheriff´s Office said: ‘We want to bring her home safely to her family. She needs to come home today, and we’re going to do that today.’

At dusk Sunday, rescuers said they found a shoe that might belong to the girl.

The shoe was about 200 yards from where the family’s vehicle was pulled from the water.

‘There was a shoe in the area where there was some interest in that debris,’ Dodd told the Arizona Republic.

‘At this time, we believe that it may belong to the little girl that we’re searching for.’

More than 100 volunteers gathered near Tonto Basin, a small community northeast of Phoenix, early Sunday to help search for Willa Rawlings.

‘I cannot thank you enough,’ the girl’s uncle, Nathan Sherwood, told the crowd of people ready to help, according to the newspaper. ‘This is about the only light in this dark situation.’

Volunteers trudged in small groups through the muddy brush, toward the creek, to search for the missing girl, who was last seen wearing jeans and a purple jacket.

The creek crossing was marked as closed with barricades and signs, authorities said.

One volunteer shared on Facebook that the conditions in the area are ‘rough in spots and the water line keeps changing’.

‘Lots of vegetation and debris out here. Not an easy search, but so many heroes w/ big hearts are here. This community is amazing,’ the Facebook user wrote.

The Arizona Search and Rescue Tactical team shared photos of rescuers crawling through brush and standing in waist-deep water as they continued their search for Willa Monday morning.

A National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologist said the agency issued a flood warning for the region that includes the Tonto Basin area at 8.53am on Friday based on data from an upstream flooding gauge.

Meteorologist Sean Benedict in Phoenix estimated that up to two inches of rain fell in the area, with some of the runoff coming from snow that fell on nearby peaks.

The region got up to four inches of rain about a week before, Benedict said.

‘So the grounds were already pretty wet and that probably helped with the runoff,’ Benedict added.

Adverse conditions included heavy brush and slippery mud along the creek and frigid water from snowmelt, but officials said they remained hopeful.

‘The Rawlings family are a fixture,’ David Merrill, one of the volunteers, told The Republic.

‘They’re the salt of the earth and they have done so much. Little League, school … volunteers for football … whatever it took, they’ve been in the middle of it.’

Merrill came with a group from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Pinetop, about 130 miles east of the search area.

‘The whole community’s rallied around them to show their love and support during this tragedy,’ he said.

Two GoFundMe pages have been set up for both families.

One of the Go Fund Me pages was set up for the family of Colby and Willa, which has raised more than $20,000, surpassing its $6,500 goal.

The second Go Fund Me page was set up for Austin’s family. The page has raised more than $30,000 toward the $50,000 goal.

Austin’s family described her as an ‘expressive’ little girl ‘who loved music and color’.

Her funeral will be held on Friday.

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