Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Father, daughter found in submerged vehicle in Mendocino County's Eel River

Father, daughter found in submerged vehicle in Mendocino County's Eel River

The bodies of two adults and one child of a family missing for about two weeks after leaving Portland that were found in the Eel River in northern California have been positively identified by search personnel. Their disappearance coincided with reports that a vehicle had sunk into the Eel River in Northern California.

Recovery divers found Sandeep Thottapilly, 41, and his daughter Saachi, 9, inside the family's Honda Pilot during a search Sunday, officials said.

Last week, the rescue team had found the body of a woman, later identified to be that of Soumya, and remains of the vehicle and the belongings of the Thottapilly family. "The searchers began to probe the water and located a vehicle submerged approximately 4-6 feet beneath the water", Californias Mendocino County Sheriffs Office said in a statement.

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Siddhant Thottapilly was the last to be found after the family of four went missing earlier this month.

Autopsies are expected to be performed this week as part of an investigation into the incident.

Mid-day April 15, a boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water approximately a half mile downstream of the reported crash site. Visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current. A poster shared by friends and relatives on social media suggested that the SUV matched the Thottapilly family's vehicle.

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The family was traveling from Portland to their home in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita.

On Sunday 70 searchers using Jet Skis, boats and kayaks worked along the river in an ongoing effort to find the vehicle and family. But the Thottapillys never made it to San Jose and were later reported missing, police said.

On April 6, witnesses reported seeing a similar-looking vehicle falling off a steep embankment and into the Eel River off U.S. Route 101 near Leggett, a small camping and hiking destination in Northern California, authorities said. The crash killed a married couple, Jennifer Jean Hart and Sarah Margaret Hart, both 38, and at least three of their six children.

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Also Sunday, authorities confirmed a body found Friday was Soumya Thottapilly.

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