SUV that plunged into Northern California river found, 2 bodies in it

Lester Mason
April 17, 2018

Almost 70 searchers were frantically diving into the river waters to retrieve the bodies ever since the maroon Honda Pilot SUV in which the Thottapillys were traveling in plunged into the river on April 6. "Visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current", the statement said. The family's maroon SUV was seen falling into the river in northern Mendocino County from a pullout during a rainstorm.

That day they also found two bodies inside the vehicle, identified as those of 41-year old Sandeep Thottapilly, and his 9-year-old daughter, Saachi. Coroner's officials were later able to identify that individual as Soumya Thottapilly, 38.

The boy's body was found about six miles north of where the family's vehicle was said to have crashed. MORE: Missing Valencia family's belongings found in NorCal river The California Highway Patrol does not believe there is any foul play.

The driver apparently had pulled off the road during a powerful storm but the SUV went over the edge of an embankment into the flooded river, sheriff's officials have said.


A search team on a boat smelled gasoline about a kilometre downstream from where the crash was reported and found the Honda Pilot underwater, authorities said.

By Tuesday, April 10, 2018, members of the Thottapilly family had arrived in Mendocino county to meet with California Highway Patrol personnel, Sheriff Allman and Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue team leader Dianna Totten. MORE: Witness recalls SUV matching missing Valencia family's vehicle flipping into Eel River The family was scheduled to arrive to visit a friend in the San Jose area on April 6 as a strong storm dumped rain on Northern California, but never showed up, authorities said. They were reported missing on April 8.

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.

A poster shared by friends and family on Facebook said their last known location was the "Klamath-Redwood National Park area".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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