USA rescue team recovers bodies of missing Indian, daughter


On Monday morning the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office announced the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and daughter 9-year-old Saachi Thottapilly were recovered from inside the vehicle.

A day earlier, a team smelled gasoline about half a mile from the crash site, along Highway 101 south of Dora Creek, and located the sport utility vehicle under 4 to 6 feet of water. Separately, an adult female body recovered on Friday from another area of the river was identified as Soumya Thottapilly, 38. Investigators said that vehicle may have been intentionally driven off the cliff. A third family member's body was recovered last week and now has been identified.

The force of the river caused a lot of damage to the vehicle and windows to break, said Bartley, theorizing that Soumya Thottapilly was likely shaken loose from the force of the water, and floated away in the rapid river.

Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect.

Searchers have been combing the river for days, by boat and air as weather and water conditions improved.

The auto has not been located, and the police said the search would continue for the vehicle and its occupants.

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The body of Siddhant Thottapilly was found at about 4 p.m. submerged in the Eel River about 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) downstream from where the family auto reportedly crashed, Mendocino County Sheriff's Office Capt. Gregory L. Van Patten said in a statement. But the Thottapillys never made it to San Jose and were later reported missing, police said.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:Incident Number: 2018-10197Crime/Incident: Search & Rescue Operation - Vehicle Recovery...

Dozens of searchers had been combing the river with Jet Skis, boats and kayaks, along with dive teams. Visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current.

Autopsies are expected to be performed later this week. 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 Thottapilly family was driving a maroon Honda Pilot with California plate 7MMX138.