A car was crossing Tonto Creek, about 60 miles west of the New Mexico border, when it was caught in flooding around 4 p.m. local time Friday, according to Gila County Undersheriff Mike Johnson.
Four children and one adult were able to get out of the vehicle and were stranded on an island in the middle of the creek where they were rescued by a Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office helicopter, Johnson said. An adult woman who was in the water also was able to get out, but three children remain unaccounted for, the undersheriff said.
Johnson told CNN the children and two adults were all in the car together when it was overtaken by floodwater, but it’s unclear how they are connected or what age they are.
An Arizona Department of Public Safety helicopter joined the search for the children Friday night along with local authorities and the fire department, Johnson said.
A flood warning is in effect for Gila County until 8:45 p.m. local time, according to the National Weather Service in Phoenix.
“Remain alert for flooding even in locations not receiving rain. Arroyos, streams, and rivers can become raging killer currents in a matter of minutes, even from distant rainfall,” the weather service said in its flood warning announcement.