Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
People | By Neil Grant

Searchers find vehicle in California river, two bodies inside

Searchers find vehicle in California river, two bodies inside

The bodies of Sandeep and Saachi were recovered on Monday inside the vehicle, a Honda Pilot, which was recovered from about 4-6 feet of river water, the police said.

An inter-agency search and rescue team has recovered two more bodies of an Indian American family who were feared drowned in a California river some 10 days ago, United States officials said on Tuesday.

Searchers have found the body of a 12-year-old boy, the last missing member of an Indian family of four which perished when their sports utility vehicle plunged into a swollen river in the U.S. state of California some 11 days ago.

Witnesses in Mendocino County - the same Northern California locality where another family died last month after their auto was possibly driven off a cliff - reported seeing an SUV being swept away in a river.

It says the vehicle was encased in sediment but that divers were able to feel a person inside the auto.

The discovery followed more than a week of search efforts for Sandeep Thottapilly, his wife, Soumya, and their two children, who disappeared while traveling to meet with family members in San Jose.

The vehicle was encased in sediment and visibility was poor but divers believed there was at least one body inside, officials said. Around 11:30 a.m., a team of searchers on a boat noticed a gasoline smell coming from the water approximately half a mile north of the site where the Thottapilly family's vehicle was reported to have crashed. The family had been driving along US Highway 101 from Portland, Oregon, to their home in Santa Clarita, according to the San Jose Police Department.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that they have found the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and 9-year-old Saachi Thottapilly after searchers located the SUV on Sunday in the Eel River.

Officials last week determined the vehicle belonged to the Thottapilly family. Their last known location was near Klamath near the OR border.

The incident happened about 30 miles from the area where another family's SUV plunged 100 feet down a cliff off the scenic Pacific Coast Highway and into the ocean.

The body has been identified as that of 12-year-old Sidhhanty Thottapilly.

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