California SUV crash victim said her moms were 'racist'

Lester Mason
April 16, 2018

The California Highway Patrol did recover a part from a maroon Honda Pilot - the type of auto the family was traveling in, the sheriff's office said.

Officials later learned it matched the description of the Thottapilly's maroon Honda Pilot.

CBS San Francisco reported that at the family home in Southern California, a single candle sat on the porch, burning in hopes the homeowners will be able to blow it out upon their safe return.

The vehicle itself and the four members of the Thottapilly family have not been recovered from the Eel River, which remains too risky for divers to enter, but 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.

The family's last known location was in the Klamath area near Redwoods National Park. On Monday 4/9/18 the California Highway Patrol became aware of an overdue family of 4, the Thottapilly family from Santa Clarita, CA, who was believed to be traveling through Humboldt and Mendocino County on US-101, while on vacation. They had been driving from Portland, Oregon, to their home in Santa Clarita, California, north of Los Angeles, according to the San Jose Police Department.

Officials said Friday that witnesses saw the family's Honda Pilot pull into a turnout alongside the river in the midst of a rainstorm a week ago. Relatives of the Thottapilly family positively identified the items as belongings of their family members, authorities said. "The responsibility is felt", said California Highway Patrol Officer William Wunderlich.


On 4/10 and again on 4/11/2018 it was determined the water levels would allow the insertion of Swift Water Rescue Teams to conduct a bank search as well as some limited "probing", a technique using a long pole being probed underwater to see if the vehicle or anything metallic could be located.

The rescue teams have been using inflatable boats, river boards and a jet boat with a side scan sonar system and had canvassed 12 miles of the riverbank by Tuesday, the sheriff's office said.

Neither the SUV nor the bodies of the Santa Clarita family have been recovered, but undisclosed belongings of the Thottapilly family and auto parts from their SUV were found along the river, the CHP said in a statement. The search teams were able to cover approximately 12 miles of river bank.

Crews have not yet actually located the vehicle. The river is still too risky for divers to enter, but searchers along the banks found several items consistent with a Honda vehicle.

The CHP will do a complete mechanical inspection of the vehicle as part of its accident investigation.

The CHP received reports of a submerged SUV along Highway 101 south of Dora Creek about 1:10 p.m. on April 6.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER