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Rescuers searching for missing Indian family in US find body of a woman

Sandeep Thottapilly and his wife Soumya were on a road trip with their two kids from Portland, Oregon to San Jose in Southern California, during which they went missing on April 5.

india Updated: Apr 15, 2018 08:47 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Washington
Indian Family missing in US,Missing Indian family,US
In this Thursday, April 12, 2018, file photo released by The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office shows a search underway along the Eel River in Northern California. The body was found on Friday on an exposed terrain.(AP)

Rescuers in the US have found the body of a woman while searching for a missing Indian family of four who are feared drowned in a California river.

An inter-agency search and rescue team in California on Friday recovered some personal items and numerous parts of a vehicle from a swollen river in which the missing Indian family was travelling last week.

Personal belongings of the four members of the family from Santa Clarita in California, who were believed to be travelling through Humboldt and Mendocino County on US-101 while on a vacation, were also found by the team over a two-day period on Tuesday and Wednesday, officials said.

Sandeep Thottapilly, 41, vice president of the Union Bank on Santa Clarita, and his wife Soumya Thottapilly, 38, were on a road trip along with their two kids -- Siddhanth, 12 and Saachi, nine -- in the maroon Honda Pilot from Portland, Oregon to San Jose in Southern California, during which they went missing on April 5.

The body has been sent for identification, amidst fear that this could be from the missing Thottapilly family.

“Searchers located the deceased body of an adult female approximately seven miles north of the reported crash site (Eel River flows in a northern direction),” California’s Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The body was found on Friday on an exposed terrain which appeared to have covered by the Eel River within the last few days as a result of a recent weather storm which brought heavy rain to the area.

Identification of the body is pending at this time and an autopsy is anticipated to be conducted on April 17.

Searchers are looking for the missing family members and their vehicle which is believed to be submerged somewhere in the Eel River.

In this Thursday, April 12, 2018, file photo by The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office shows the Eel River in Northern California. (AP)

Meanwhile, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and the California Highway Patrol, Garberville Area Office, are continuing their efforts along the South Fork of the Eel River, just north of the town of Leggett California, to locate and recover a vehicle that was reported to have been submerged in the river on around 1:10 PM on Friday, April 6.

Between the two search days, the Swift Water Rescue Teams were able to cover approximately 12 miles of the Eel river, just north of the town of Leggett in California.

The vehicle is reported to have submerged in the river around 1:10 pm on April 6.

“The teams were unsuccessful in locating the vehicle or any occupants from the vehicle. They were able to locate numerous items that appeared to have come from a vehicle body and interior,” the Garberville office of the California Highway Patrol said.

It said several items were identified by the family members of those missing.

“Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle. Also located were various personal items that were consistent with a family travelling on vacation. Several items have been positively identified, by the family members, as belonging to the Thottapilly family,” it said.

“These items were of a personal nature and will not be described further at this time, but it does confirm the fact the vehicle that was seen going into the river was that of the Thottapilly family,” the California Highway Patrol said.

According to the San Jose Police Department, the Thottapilly family was supposed to have arrived to visit a friend in the San Jose area on April 6 but did not make it as scheduled.

The family was last heard from in the town of Klamath, Del Norte County, on April 5.

The California Highway Patrol developed information that the family were travelling in a family vehicle, a 2016 maroon Honda Pilot.

The family was officially reported as missing to the San Jose Police Department on April 8.

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

First Published: Apr 15, 2018 08:47 IST