Bodies of 3 family members who traveled in SUV found in California river

Posted at 5:48 PM, Apr 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-16 17:48:49-04

The bodies of two members of a California family of four who went missing earlier this month were found inside a vehicle encased in sediment in the Eel River, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said. The remains of a third family member also have been recovered.

Two adults and two children of the Thottapilly family, from Santa Clarita, disappeared in early April while driving in a Honda Pilot through the Redwood Coast Highway on vacation, officials said. Their disappearance coincided with reports that a vehicle had sunk into the Eel River in Northern California.

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. A tow truck then removed the vehicle, which was encased in a large amount of sediment.

Sandeep Thottapilly, 41, and Saachi Thottapilly, 9, were found dead inside the vehicle. Separately, an adult female body recovered on Friday from another area of the river was identified as Soumya Thottapilly, 38.

Siddhant Thottapilly, 12, remains missing.

Autopsies on the bodies are expected to be performed this week, authorities said. 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 site of the crash is about 30 miles north of where another family’s SUV plunged off of a cliff and crashed on the rocky Pacific Ocean shore. In that case, Jennifer and Sarah Hart and three of their six children were found dead at the scene and three other children remain missing. A body was found in the oceanat the scene, but it has not been identified.


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