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US cops find woman's body while searching for Indian family who drowned in river

PTI
Published : Apr 15, 2018, 10:51 am IST
Updated : Apr 15, 2018, 3:30 pm IST

An inter-agency search and rescue team also recovered personal items and numerous parts of a vehicle from a swollen river in California.

Sandeep Thottapilly, his wife Soumya, along with their two kids were on a road trip in a maroon Honda Pilot from Portland, Oregon to San Jose in Southern California. (Photo: Facebook)
 Sandeep Thottapilly, his wife Soumya, along with their two kids were on a road trip in a maroon Honda Pilot from Portland, Oregon to San Jose in Southern California. (Photo: Facebook)

Washington: A woman's body was found by rescuers in the US during the search of a missing Indian family of four who are feared drowned in a swollen river in California, officials said. 

An inter-agency search and rescue team in California on Friday also 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 in Santa Clarita, and his wife Soumya Thottapilly, 38, were on a road trip along with their two kids -- Siddhanth, 12 and Saachi, 9 -- in a maroon Honda Pilot from Portland, Oregon to San Jose in Southern California, during which they went missing on April 5. 

Authorities, who originally had said the body was a child's, anticipate that an autopsy will be performed early next week. "Searchers located the deceased body of an adult female approximately seven miles north of the reported crash site," 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. Searchers are looking for the missing family members and their vehicle which is believed to be submerged somewhere in the Eel River. 

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. 

Tags: indian family, california, gujarat
Location: United States, District of Columbia, Washington