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UPDATE: Bodies, Vehicle Recovered From Missing California Family

The body of Siddhant Thottapilly, the remaining missing member of the Thottapilly family, has been found.

Posted: Apr 16, 2018 9:18 AM
Updated: Apr 16, 2018 8:10 PM

UPDATE: According to the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, water searchers located the body of a juvenile male submerged in the Eel River approximately 6 miles north of the reported crash site (down stream). The body was found around 4:00 PM.

Once the body was recovered it was identified as being Siddhant Thottapilly, the remaining missing member of the Thottapilly family.

An autopsy is expected to be performed this week as part of the Coroner's investigation into the incident.

UPDATE: Search and rescue divers have located the submerged vehicle of the Thottapilly family about a half mile north of the crash site, according to Mendocino County Sheriff's Department (MCSD).

After partially pulling the SUV from the Eel River, rescuers were able to identify the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly (the family's father) and 9-year-old Saachi Thottapilly (daughter), both still inside the vehicle.

38-year-old Siddhant Thottapilly (mother) was recovered on the riverbank and later identified last week. 12-year-old Siddhant (son) remains missing.

Rescuers in a boat found the vehicle after noticing a gasoline smell coming from the water, downstream from the suspected crash site. Autopsies are expected to be performed this week, according to MCSD.

(Updated as of 9:16 a.m. on Monday, April 16)

The latest from Mendocino County Sheriff's Department (MCSD) reveals that a body found near the suspected crash site of the Thottapilly family was one of an adult woman (not a child, as previously reported by the Associated Press). She was found about seven miles north of where the crash was reported.

The body was found lying on 'exposed terrain,' formerly covered by the swollen Eel River after several days of heavy rain, according to MCSD.

Investigators have not yet officially confirmed the identity of the body—and an autopsy will not be conducted until April 17, according to MCSD.

Search and rescue teams will continue to comb the area for the missing faily members and their vehicle, which has not yet been found and is still believed to be submerged somewhere in the Eel River.

(Updated as of 4:27 p.m. on Friday, April 13)

UPDATE (AP): Sheriff confirms that the body of a child has been found in the Northern California river that a family's SUV plunged into last week.

This is a developing story and we will be updating as more details emerge.

(Updated as of 1:00 p.m. on Friday, April 13)

LEGGETT, Calif. (AP) — Recovered vehicle debris and personal items confirm that an SUV seen plunging into a storm-swollen Northern California river belonged to a family that disappeared last week, authorities said Thursday.

The vehicle itself and the four members of the Thottapilly family have not been recovered from the Eel River, which remains too dangerous for divers to enter, but searchers along the banks located numerous items consistent with a Honda vehicle body and interior, and items consistent with a family traveling on vacation, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

"Several items have been positively identified, by 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 family from Santa Clarita in northern Los Angeles County was last heard from while driving along northwestern California's redwood coast. The family was traveling home from Portland, Oregon, and was reported missing April 8 by a relative in San Jose who had expected them to arrive for a visit by April 6.

The family members were identified as Sandeep Thottapilly, 41; Soumya Thottapilly, 38; Siddhant Thottapilly, 12; and Saachi Thottapilly, 9.

The family was traveling as a strong storm dumped rain on Northern California.

Before the family was known to be missing, authorities in Mendocino County received reports that a vehicle southbound on U.S. 101 went off the highway and tumbled into the Eel River. The vehicle had submerged by the time rescuers arrived.

"The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has been in contact with numerous other county dive teams and technical rescue responders that can be called upon, when the vehicle is located, to assist with recovery of the vehicle," the office said. "Once recovered the Highway Patrol will conduct a complete mechanical inspection of the vehicle as part of the accident investigation.

Farther south along the Mendocino County coast, authorities continue to look for members of a family missing since an SUV made a deadly and possibly intentional plunge off a towering ocean bluff along State Route 1 last month.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their six adopted children were believed to be in the family's SUV at the time. 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.

A body was pulled out of the surf last weekend but its identity was not immediately identified.

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