Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Mom who drove SUV with family off cliff was drunk

Mom who drove SUV with family off cliff was drunk

Sandeep Thottapilly (42), his wife Soumya (38), and their children Siddhant (12) and Saachi (9), were in a maroon Honda Pilot with a California registration plate (7MMX138).

According to the San Jose police department, the Thottapilly family was supposed to have arrived to visit a friend in the San Jose area on April 6 but did not make it as scheduled.

The mother of the family and the either two or three children who live in the house were out as well when the fire started, so there were no injuries.

Authorities have said data from the vehicle's software suggested the crash was deliberate, though the California Highway Patrol has not concluded why the vehicle went off an ocean overlook on a rugged part of coastline.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Anxious acquaintances and relatives shared information online about the Thottapilly family, their smiling faces beaming out from missing persons posters. The woman's body was found in the water by authorities searching the river by boat, Mr. Allman said.

Yesterday, authorities revealed Jennifer Hart, who was driving the SUV, "had a blood alcohol level of.102 at the time of the crash, California Highway Patrol Capt. Bruce Carpenter said at a press conference Friday". Various personal items that the family was carrying during their vacation were also found. Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect, but three of their children were not immediately recovered from the scene along the shoreline. They used an underwater probe to see if the vehicle or anything metallic could be located.

Searchers have found numerous items from the vehicle's body and interior. On the morning of March 25, Jennifer Hart was recorded on surveillance video at a Safeway in Fort Bragg, about 15 miles south of where the family was found dead the next day.

The family was last heard from in the town of Klamath, Del Norte County, on April 5. Debris at the accident site and other material found along the riverbanks also was consistent with that vehicle, officials have said.

And authorities have said social services officials in OR contacted the West Linn Police Department about the family in 2013 while they were living in the area.

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