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Missing Family's Bodies Found in River

The Latest on the search for a family whose vehicle plunged into Northern California river.

Posted: Apr. 11, 2018 11:24 AM
Updated: Apr. 16, 2018 12:19 PM

UPDATE 4/16/2018 11:05 a.m. 

LEGGETT, Calif. (AP) - The Latest on the search for a family whose vehicle plunged into Northern California river.

Officials in Northern California say crews found a vehicle that plunged into a rain-swollen Northern California river after noticing a gasoline smell.

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said Monday that a boating team searching the Eel River noticed the fuel odor about half a mile downstream from where the crash was reported.

Searchers found the car Sunday and recovered the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and 9-year-old Saachi Thottapilly. The body of 38-year-old Soumya Thottapilly was found Friday.

The couple's 12-year-old son, Sidhhanty Thottapilly, remains missing.

The office says 70 searchers combed the area, including more than 20 crew members searching the water in Jet Skis, boats and kayaks.

It says the vehicle was encased in sediment but that divers were able to feel a person inside the car.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.)

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UPDATE 4/12/2018 3:40 p.m.

LEGGETT, Calif. (AP) - The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office says recovered debris and personal items confirm that a vehicle seen plunging into a storm-swollen Northern California river last week belonged to a family that went missing.

A sheriff's office statement Thursday says the vehicle and its occupants haven't been located in the Eel River but searchers have found numerous items from the vehicle's body and interior.

They say the items are consistent with a family on vacation and unspecified items were identified by relatives of the Thottapilly family.

The family of four - two parents and two children - was traveling from Portland, Oregon, to their home in Santa Clarita, California, last week when they stopped communicating with relatives.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press.)
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Valencia Calif.-- A missing family mystery possible new clues in the case of a Valencia family of four that vanished while on a road trip.

The family was supposed to drive down from Portland to San Jose before heading home to Valencia. They never made it there.

CBS2's Randy Paige is in Valencia with new clues in the case.

A single candle stands on the driveway where the Thottapilly family lives, while hope for their safe return begins to fade.

This video taken by a security camera mounted on Mat Lemus's house across the street chronicles the last day they were here.

It was March 30th, at 7:40 in the morning, when Soumya Thottapilly pulls out of her garage in the family's red Honda Pilot as she takes her children to school, fifteen minutes later she's back.

At 2:54 p.m. that afternoon, Soumya and her 9 year old daughter Saachi bring in the empty garbage cans.

Six minutes later, the family's off apparently heading for Portland Oregon then, on their way back they planned to stop and see a relative in San Jose. They never arrived.

Consider their route they planned to drive south from Portland and arrive in San Jose on Friday.

That same day Friday the CHP got calls about a red Honda Pilot, the same make and color of the Thottapilly's SUV, that was seen careening off a windy two lane section of the 101 north of Leggett, and disappearing into the swollen Eel River in a pounding rain.
That SUV has not yet been found.

The CHP says there is no way to know if the Honda Pilot seen going into the river belongs to the Thottapilly family because it's been too dangerous for divers to search.

In Valencia, their neighbor has been keeping watch over their home hoping to see some sign of life.

A neighbor says, “There are no lights in the house no one comes by, no police no sheriff no family nothing. And when you look at their Facebook picture it's heartbreaking. It is because we see them daily running around playing outside and to think that could be potentially them is upsetting.”

According to CHP it has been too dangerous to send divers into the river, so the SUV people say has not been found yet.

San Jose Police say the Thottapilly family is still missing.

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