US rescue team recovers bodies of missing Indian and his daughter

Apr 17, 2018, 14:04 IST | PTI

Police said that the bodies of Sandeep and Saachi were recovered on Monday inside the vehicle, a Honda Pilot, which was recovered from about 4-6 feet of river water

Representation pic

An inter-agency search and rescue team has recovered two more bodies of an Indian American family who were feared drowned in a California river some 10 days ago, US officials said today. The bodies have been identified of that of Sandeep Thottapilly, 41, and his daughter Saachi, nine, who along with his wife, Soumya, 38, and son Siddhant, 12, went missing 10 days ago. They were driving from Portland, Oregon to San Jose in Southern California.

The bodies of Sandeep and Saachi were recovered yesterday inside the vehicle, a Honda Pilot, which was recovered from about 4-6 feet of river water, the police said. Last week, the rescue team had found the body of a woman, later identified to be that of Soumya, and remains of the vehicle and the belongings of the Thottapilly family.

"At approximately 11:30 AM a boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water approximately 1/2 mile north of the reported crash site (downstream). The searchers began to probe the water and located a vehicle submerged approximately 4-6 feet beneath the water," California's Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Soon thereafter, search divers entered the water and were able to feel what they believed to be a person inside of the vehicle. Visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current, a media release said.

Recovery efforts continued for several hours and at approximately 6:30 PM the vehicle was partially removed from the Eel River by use of a tow truck. This provided searchers the ability to conduct a visual inspection of the inside of the vehicle. "Searchers subsequently recovered the bodies of Sandeep Thottapilly and Saachi Thottapilly from inside the vehicle," the Sheriff Office said adding that the autopsies are expected to be performed this week as part of the coroner's investigation into the incident.

Another search operation is being conducted around the Eel River in an attempt to locate Siddhant Thottapilly who still remains missing. According to the San Jose Police Department, the Thottapilly family was supposed to have arrived to visit a friend in the San Jose area on April 6 but did not make it as scheduled. The family was last heard from in the town of Klamath, Del Norte County, on April 5. The family was officially reported as missing to the San Jose Police Department on April 8. Sandeep grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the US over 15 years ago.

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