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Bodies of Indian family whose SUV plunged into California river found

The four members of the Thottapilly family went missing while travelling from Portland, Oregon, to their home in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita.

world Updated: Apr 17, 2018 09:44 IST
Associated Press
Associated Press
Associated Press, Leggett
Indian Family missing in US,Missing Indian family,US
Authorities searching for a family whose SUV plunged into a rain-swollen Northern California river found the vehicle and the body of Sandeep Thottapilly and the couple’s daughter.(Picture courtesy: Sandeep Thottapilly/Facebook )

Searchers have found the body of the last missing person from a family that perished after their SUV plunged into a rain-swollen river in Northern California.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office says that around 4 pm (PDT) Monday, searchers found the body of a boy submerged in the Eel River about 6 miles downstream from where the SUV crashed.

The body has been identified as that of 12-year-old Siddhant Thottapilly.

The bodies of his father and 9-year-old sister were found inside the submerged car on Sunday and his mother’s body was found last Friday.

About 70 searchers combed the area of the crash Sunday, including more than 20 crew members searching the water with Jet Skis, boats and kayaks, the office said.

A team on a boat smelled gasoline about half a mile (1 kilometre) downstream from where the crash was reported and found the SUV.

It was encased in sediment from the river current, but divers were able to feel a person inside. Crews partially removed the car with a tow truck and recovered the bodies of the father and daughter, the sheriff’s office said.

A file photo released by The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office shows a search underway along the Eel River in Northern California. (AP Photo)

Soumya Thottapilly was found in an area previously covered with water from the storm-swollen river.

Sandeep worked as a vice-president with the Union Bank and lived in Los Angeles with his family. He grew up in Surat, Gujarat, and settled down in the US over 15 years ago, a relative said.

The family members were travelling from Portland, Oregon, to their home in the Los Angeles suburb of Santa Clarita. They were reported missing April 8 after failing to show up for a visit with relatives in San Jose.

A poster shared by friends and family on Facebook said their last known location was the “Klamath-Redwood National Park area.”

The Klamath River and a string of state and federal redwood parks lie along US 101, north of where motorists saw the vehicle fall into the Eel River.

A powerful storm dropped 2 to 5 inches (5 to 13 centimetres) of rain the day the family went missing.

Farther south, authorities were still looking for the missing members of a different family whose SUV plunged off a towering ocean bluff along the Pacific Coast Highway last month.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their six adopted children were believed to be in the SUV at the time. Authorities say they believe the crash was intentional.

Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect. Three of the children have not been found. A body was pulled from the surf April 7 but has not been identified.

(With PTI inputs)

First Published: Apr 16, 2018 22:36 IST