Tuesday, 14 August, 2018

Child's body found in California river where family of four vanished

The Thottapilly Family The Thottapilly Family
Russell Knight | 16 April, 2018, 03:05

The body of a woman believed to be a member of a Valencia family missing in Northern California for more than week was found by searchers Friday morning, seven miles downstream from where the family's SUV was swept into a rushing river. The vehicle had submerged by the time rescuers arrived. Exactly one week after the four members of the Thottapilly family went missing, searchers in rafts, kickboards and on foot were searching the Eel River for some sign of them. "We are working on finding the vehicle but we are not able to locate it".

It said several items were identified by the family members of those missing. The river is still too risky for divers to enter, but searchers along the banks found several items consistent with a Honda vehicle. Also located were various personal items that were consistent with a family travelling on vacation.

The SUV pulled onto a gravel turnout during a severe rainstorm, but parked too close to the river on the soft shoulder, and the ground gave way, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

In addition to the insertion of Swift Water Rescue Teams to conduct a bank search, there was some limited "probing", a technique using a long pole being probed underwater to see if the vehicle or anything metallic could be located. They were reported missing April 8 after failing to show up for a visit with relatives in San Jose. The California Highway Patrol did recover a part from a maroon Honda Pilot - the type of auto the family was traveling in, the sheriff's office said.

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CHP officers found a vehicle part that was determined to be from a maroon Honda Pilot and requested a Mendocino County search and rescue dive team to try to recover the vehicle, sheriff's officials said.

Before the family was known to be missing, authorities in Mendocino County received reports that a vehicle southbound on USA 101 went off the highway and tumbled into the Eel River.

On Thursday, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said it had found belongings of the Thottapilly family, of Santa Clarita, as well as vehicle parts from their SUV about 14 miles down river from where investigators believe they rolled down an embankment. Crews used inflatable boats, river boards, jet skis and kayaks. Once recovered, the SUV will undergo a full mechanical inspection as part of the CHP's investigation.

Sandeep Thottapilly grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the U.S. over 15 years ago.

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