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

The Thottapilly Family

The vehicle itself and the four members of the Thottapilly family have not been recovered from the Eel River, which remains too risky for divers to enter, but searchers along the banks located numerous items consistent with a Honda vehicle and interior, and items consistent with a family traveling on vacation, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Search teams have scoured at least 12 miles of river bank, but the hunt for the family and their SUV has been hindered by the strong current and poor clarity, according to the CHP.

"Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle", the CHP said in the Facebook post. The Thottapilly family from Valencia, a neighborhood in Santa Clarita, California - Sandeep Thottapilly, 42, wife Sowmya, 38, their son Siddhant, 12 and daughter Saachi, 9 were traveling through Humboldt and Mendocino County on US-101.

Searchers looking for a family of four whose SUV plunged into a Northern California river have found the body of a child believed to be from the vehicle, authorities said Friday. Also located were various personal items that were consistent with a family travelling on vacation.

The Mendocino County Sheriff said during a Friday news conference that the body was found about 7 miles south of where the Thottapilly family's auto is believed to have gone off an embankment. By Sunday, April 8, relatives had reported the family missing to San Jose police and an alert was sent out.

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Because of the high swift waters, no recovery of the vehicle was possible and authorities judged that rescue operations would not be safe. The items were identified by family members as belonging to the Thottapilly family, officials said.

According to the highway patrol, the teams accessed the river in inflatable boats and on "River Boards", a small floatation device created to allow full access under overhanging trees or tight areas not accessible by boat.

The California Highway Patrol developed information that the family were travelling in a family vehicle, a 2016 maroon Honda Pilot.

The California Highway Patrol said that witnesses have told them they saw a SUV matching the description of the one owned by the Thottapilly family rolled through a highway pullout, slam into trees as it went down a 150-foot embankment and crash into the swift-moving waters of the Eel River.

Sandeep Thottapilly grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the U.S. over 15 years ago.

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