Searchers find vehicle in California river, two bodies inside

Michael Brannock and Alison Eanes

Inside the vehicle, which was recovered Sunday, were the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and his 9-year-old daughter, Saachi.

The body was found a day after the auto with Siddhant's father and younger sister inside were pulled from the river sediment.

"At around 11:30am, a boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water approximately 1/2 mile north of the reported crash site (downstream)". Around 11:30 a.m., a team of searchers on a boat noticed a gasoline smell coming from the water approximately half a mile north of the site where the Thottapilly family's vehicle was reported to have crashed.

The family was on a road trip to Portland, Oregon and coming back to their home in California, when they went missing. Sandeep Thottapilly (41), Soumya Thottapilly (38), Siddhant Thottapilly (12) and Saachi Thottapilly (9) went missing after the auto in which the family was travelling fell into the river on April 6.


Last week, the rescue team had found the body of a woman, later identified to be that of Soumya (Sandeep's wife), along with remains of the vehicle and some belongings of the Thottapilly family.

The crash site is about 200 miles (322 kilometers) northwest of San Jose. Mr. Thottapilly and his daughter were found inside a vehicle in about four to six feet of water.

Searchers along the banks located numerous items consistent with a Honda vehicle and interior, and items consistent with a family traveling on vacation, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

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. Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect, but three of their children were not immediately recovered from the scene along the shoreline.

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