ShareThis Page
World

Officials: SUV that fell in river belonged to missing Oregon family

| Thursday, April 12, 2018, 8:45 p.m.
In a statement Thursday, April 12, 2018, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office says recovered debris and personal items confirm that a vehicle seen plunging into the storm-swollen Eel River last week belonged to a family that went missing in Northern California.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office
In a statement Thursday, April 12, 2018, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office says recovered debris and personal items confirm that a vehicle seen plunging into the storm-swollen Eel River last week belonged to a family that went missing in Northern California.
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office searches Thursday, April 12, 2018, along the Eel River in Northern California for a family of four from Portland, Ore., who disappeared last week.
Mendocino County Sheriff's Office
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office searches Thursday, April 12, 2018, along the Eel River in Northern California for a family of four from Portland, Ore., who disappeared last week.

LEGGETT, Calif. — Recovered vehicle debris and personal items confirm that an SUV seen plunging into a storm-swollen Northern California river belonged to a family that disappeared last week, authorities said Thursday.

The vehicle itself and the four members of the Thottapilly family have not been recovered from the Eel River, which remains too dangerous 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.

“Several items have been positively identified, by family members, as belonging to the Thottapilly family,” it said. “These items were of a personal nature and will not be described further at this time, but it does confirm the fact the vehicle that was seen going into the river was that of the Thottapilly family.”

The family from Santa Clarita in Los Angeles County was last heard from while driving along California's redwood coast, about 180 miles north of San Francisco.

The family was traveling home from Portland, Ore., and was reported missing April 8 by a relative in San Jose who had expected them to arrive for a visit two days earlier.

The family members were identified as Sandeep Thottapilly, 41; Soumya Thottapilly, 38; Siddhant Thottapilly, 12; and Saachi Thottapilly, 9.

The family was traveling as a strong storm dumped rain on Northern California.

Before the family was known to be missing, authorities in Mendocino County received reports that a vehicle southbound on U.S. 101 went off the highway and tumbled into the Eel River. The vehicle had submerged by the time rescuers arrived.

“The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has been in contact with numerous other county dive teams and technical rescue responders that can be called upon, when the vehicle is located, to assist with recovery of the vehicle,” the office said. “Once recovered the Highway Patrol will conduct a complete mechanical inspection of the vehicle as part of the accident investigation.”

Farther south along the Mendocino County coast, authorities continue to look for members of a family missing since an SUV made a deadly and possibly intentional plunge off a towering ocean bluff along State Route 1 last month.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their six adopted children were believed to be in the family's SUV at the time. Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect, but three of their children were not immediately recovered from the scene along the shoreline.

A body was pulled out of the surf last weekend but was not immediately identified.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me