Crews find vehicle that went into California river, 2 bodies

LEGGETT, Calif. — Crews searching for a family whose vehicle plunged into a rain-swollen Northern California river more than a week ago have found the sport utility vehicle and the body of a man and a girl inside it, authorities said Monday.

Searchers located the car Sunday in the Eel River and recovered the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and 9-year-old Saachi Thottapilly, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

The body of an adult female found in the river last Friday has been identified as 38-year-old Soumya Thottapilly, the statement said. The couple’s 12-year-old son, Sidhhanty Thottapilly, remains missing.

A team of more than 20 searchers found the car submerged in between 4 and 6 feet (1 and 2 metres) of water, partially removed it from the river using a tow truck and then found the two bodies inside the vehicle, the sheriff’s office said.

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

The Thottapilly family went missing while 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 “missing” 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 U.S. 101 to the north of the location where other motorists saw the vehicle fall into the Eel River.

A powerful storm dropped 2 to 5 inches (5 to 12.7 centimetres) of rain in the region the day they went missing.

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