Items belonging to missing family found in river amid search for bodies

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Authorities said that a auto, which witnesses defined as possibly a Honda Pilot SUV, vanished after falling in to the rain-swollen Eel River in Mendocino County around 1 p.m. Friday.

They made headway over about 12 miles of river bank during two days of searching. On Thursday, deputies said they had recovered debris and personal items along the river belonging to the family. A camera bag and some clothing were reportedly among the things found. Relatives of the missing family were on hand to help identify anything found.

Sheriff deputies and the California Highway Patrol have been working since last week to locate and recover the vehicle.

An April 12 press statement from the Mendocino County Sheriff's office lists Sandeep Thottapilly, 41; Soumya Thottapilly, 38; Siddhant Thottapilly, 12; and Saachi Thottapilly, 9, as victims in the search and rescue operation which began April 6. They were reported missing when they failed to arrive at a relative's home in San Jose for a Friday stopover.

Sandeep Thottapilly was the vice president of the Union Bank of Santa Clarita.

Two more are missing and another body has been found but not identified. But on April 10 and 11, Swift Water Rescue Teams used a technique called "probing", using a long pole being probed underwater to see if the vehicle or anything metallic could be located.

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Farther south along the Mendocino County coast, authorities proceed to find associates of the Hart household, overlooking past 42, since an SUV left a dip away a towering sea bluff.

The teams accessed the river in inflatable boats and using smaller floatation devices.

Authorities did not elaborate on items that were found in the river this week, but said that a vehicle seen going into the river on April 6, when a massive storm swamped areas of Northern California.

"Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle", the CHP said in the Facebook post.

The vehicle itself and also the four associates of the Thottapilly family members have yet to be retrieved by the Eel River, which remains too risky for divers to enter, but searchers along the banking institutions located numerous items consistent using a Honda auto and inside, and goods consistent with a family traveling on holiday, and the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in an announcement. DNA analysis should confirm the identity in the coming weeks, Barney said.

If and when the missing SUV is found, the CHP is expected to carry out a complete mechanical inspection of the vehicle as part of the accident investigation. Officers found a part from a maroon Honda Pilot, the same type of SUV the family was driving, but did not definitively say it was from their vehicle until Thursday.

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