Authorities Identify Three Bodies Belonging to Missing California Family

Authorities Identify Three Bodies Belonging to Missing California Family

The bodies recovered by the search teams have been identified as that of Sandeep Thottapilly, 41, and his daughter Saachi, nine.

Greg Van Patten said that rescue searchers came upon a body as they were looking for a vehicle seen going into the Eel River last week, which matched the description of the Thottapilly family auto.

All four members of the Thottapilly family lived in Santa Clarita and had been on vacation when their maroon Honda Pilot was seen plunging into the Eel River by another motorist as the family was heading south on Highway 101 the afternoon of April 6.

Investigators also have identified a body recovered Friday as belonging to Sandeep Thottapilly's wife, 38-year-old Soumya.

Another search operation is being conducted around the Eel River in an attempt to locate Siddhant Thottapilly who still remains missing.

Autopsies on the bodies are expected to be performed this week, authorities said.

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The body was found seven miles downstream from the location where it was reported to the California Highway Patrol at 1:10 p.m. last Friday that a vehicle went over a steep embankment on U.S. Highway 101 south of Dora Creek, north of Leggett. Their son, Siddhant, 12, remained missing. The family was last heard from in the town of Klamath, Del Norte County, on April 5. But the Thottapillys never made it to San Jose and were later reported missing, police said. Visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased ina large amount of sediment from the river current, a media release said.

The searches last weekend involved 70 people, including 21 in the water using Jet Skis and kayaks.

For the last three days, after water levels dropped to a level considered safe enough for searchers to enter, an extensive search by rescuers representing many agencies has been underway to find the SUV.

About 11:30 a.m. Sunday, searchers found a vehicle submerged about four to six feet below the surface of the water, and about 6:30 p.m., the SUV was partially removed from the river by a tow truck and two bodies were found inside, according to the Mendicino County Sheriff's Office.

Sandeep, originally from Kerala, grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the USA over 15 years ago.

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