Washington, Apr 17: The search and rescue teams in the United States recovered the bodies of two more members of the Indian American family that had gone missing while travelling from Oregon to California about 10 days ago. The bodies recovered by the search teams have been identified as that of Sandeep Thottapilly, 41, and his daughter Saachi, nine. Sandeep, along with his wife, Soumya, 38, and son Siddhant, 12, and daughter Saachi, went missing 10 days ago when they were driving from Portland, Oregon to San Jose in Southern California.
The bodies were recovered on Sunday inside the vehicle, a Honda Pilot, which was recovered from about 4-6 feet of the Eel River. The rescue teams had earlier last week found the body of a woman, who was identified as Soumya, and remains of the vehicle and the belongings of the Thottapilly family. The son, Siddhant, continues to be missing and rescue efforts are on to trace him.
The San Jose Police Department said that 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, they said. The family was officially reported as missing to the San Jose Police Department on April 8.
In a statement on the rescue efforts, California’s Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said, “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.”
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.
Sandeep grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the US over 15 years ago.
With inputs from PTI