A mother and father who killed their two children and niece by driving through floodwaters have denied charges of manslaughter and child abuse.

Daniel Rawlings, who was driving the car in November 2019, denied three counts of reckless manslaughter, while his wife Lacey pleaded not guilty to child abuse charges at an arraignment hearing on Tuesday.

The pair, from Globe in Arizona, killed their son Colby, 5, daughter Willa, six, and niece Austin, 5, after deciding to drive their military-style SUV through the swollen waters of Tonto Creek in Arizona the day after Thanksgiving 2019.

But the family’s car became stuck in the raging waters, and was eventually swept away. Daniel and four other children in the car managed to escape, and sought shelter on a nearby island.

Lacey also escaped and made it to a nearby riverbank. Colby and Austin Rawlings’ bodies were discovered two days later, but Willa’s remains weren’t found until December 13 after a huge search effort involving helicopters and kayaks.

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The incident saw both parents charged with seven counts of child abuse, one for each of the youngsters in their car when it was overcome with water. Daniel and Lacey Rawlings are due back in court for a procedural hearing next month.

The accident which cost their children and niece their lives has also prompted Arizona state officials to announce plans for a new $21million bridge in the area they were swept away, whose terrain is known to be dangerous in wet weather.

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