Body of man who drowned in creek found; fourth to die there this month
GILA, Ariz. — Divers Dec. 7 recovered the body of the fourth person to die in Tonto Creek in just over a week, the Arizona Republic reported.
The body was identified as that of Robert George Petitte, 69.
Petitte’s body was found on an island about 200 yards away from where the creek swept his vehicle away, the Gila County Sheriff’s Office told the Republic.
Petitte was crossing the creek at Tonto Creek Shores in Gisela, Lt. Virgil Dodd said. Gisela is a small unincorporated community between Payson and Tonto Basin.
Sheriff’s deputies think the man attempted to get out of his car when the rushing water swept him away.
Officials learned of the incident from a 911 call made shortly before 1 p.m. Dec. 7, but Petitte is thought to have died Dec. 6.
“This has been a tragic week in the Tonto Creek. Our thoughts are with the families of those who have passed,” Gila County Sheriff J. Adam Shepherd said in a statement.
Shepherd also reminded people not to cross flooded areas and remember the “inherent dangers of moving water.”
The search continues for 6-year-old Willa Rawlings with no new information about the missing child, the Republic reported.
Willa, her brother and cousin were swept away in Tonto Creek when her parents drove their truck through a flooded crossing on the afternoon of Nov. 29. The bodies of her brother and cousin, both 5 years old, have been recovered.