Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Body of last missing family member found in California river

Body of last missing family member found in California river

Search teams found and identified family members who disappeared more than a week ago while on a road trip from OR to California. The Thottapilly family was on a road trip from OR to San Jose when their SUV plunged into the Eel River in Northern California.

On Sunday, searchers found the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and his 9-year-old daughter, Saachi, inside the vehicle that was submerged in the Eel River. Just last week, the mom's body was recovered.

According to a report from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, the Sunday search consisted of 21 water searchers which included two Jet Ski teams, two boat teams and several Kayak/Carlson board teams. Another search operation was conducted Monday in and around the Eel River in an attempt to locate Siddhant Thottapilly, a 12-year-old boy, who still remains missing.

Officials last week determined the vehicle belonged to the Thottapilly family.

Autopsies of the three bodies are expected to be conducted this week. Investigators said that vehicle may have been intentionally driven off the cliff.

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"At approximately 11:30 AM a boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water approximately 1/2 mile north of the reported crash site (downstream)".

Divers then entered the vehicle and felt what they believed was a body inside, though visibility was described as "extremely poor" with the vehicle "encased in a large amount of sediment from the river".

Local news agencies are reporting that at least 70 searchers were involved in the rescue effort on the Eel River in Leggett, California. They soon found the vehicle, and divers reported feeling what they believed to be a person inside. The family member told police he had not heard from the Thottapillys since April 6, which was unusual for the family. 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.

The California Highway Patrol reported April 6 that a witness had seen a vehicle go over the side of a steep embankment on US-101, south of Dora Creek in Northern Mendocino County.

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