Sunday, 22 April, 2018

U.S. rescue team recovers bodies of missing Indian, daughter

Father, daughter found in submerged vehicle in Mendocino County's Eel River Vehicle, bodies of missing Calif. family members who vanished after road trip from Portland recovered
Kenny Thornton | 17 April, 2018, 16:10

Searchers along a northern Mendocino County river recovered the remaining three bodies of a Southern California family that were in a vehicle when it plunged into the South Fork of the Eel River more than week ago, Mendocino County sheriff's officials said.

The authorities in Northern California have recovered and identified the bodies of three out of four members of a California family who disappeared while on a road trip earlier this month.

While 42-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and his daughter named Saachi was found dead inside the auto, mother Soumya Thottapilly was found in another part of the river. Just last week, the mom's body was recovered.

On Sunday, searchers discovered a vehicle in the river about a half-mile downstream of the reported crash site, near Leggett, the sheriff's office said.

Autopsies are expected to be performed this week as part of an investigation into the incident. A poster shared by friends and relatives on social media suggested that the SUV matched the Thottapilly family's vehicle. Investigators said that vehicle may have been intentionally driven off the cliff.

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Captain Gregory van Patten of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office reported in an April 16 press release that 70 members of a search and rescue team had conducted operations over the past week since the Thottapillys went missing. On Sunday almost 70 jet skis, boats were involved in the search operation. Visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current.

Soon thereafter, search divers entered the water and were able to feel what they believed to be a person inside of the vehicle. Recovery efforts continued for several hours and at approximately 6:30 p.m. the vehicle was partially removed from the Eel River by use of a tow truck. The family was last heard from in the town of Klamath, Del Norte County, on April 5.

On April 6, witnesses reported seeing a similar-looking vehicle falling off a steep embankment and into the Eel River off U.S. Route 101 near Leggett, a small camping and hiking destination in Northern California, authorities said.

Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect.

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