MCSO: Thottapilly SUV found in Eel River, bodies of father and daughter inside

The Thottapilly Family

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) has reported that search crews looking for the missing Thottapilly family of four and their SUV recovered the vehicle with two deceased people inside on Sunday, April 15.

The missing family of four consists of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly, 38-year-old Soumya Thottapilly, 12-year-old Siddhant Thottapilly and 9-year-old Saachi Thottapilly. The family was reported missing April 8 on their way home to Southern California from a trip to Oregon. A family member called law enforcement when the four didn't show up for a scheduled stop in San Jose.

On Sunday, approximately 70 searchers were continuing search and rescue efforts on the Eel River in Leggett, consisting of 21 water searchers including two jet ski teams, two boat teams and several kayak and carlson board teams. At around 11:30 a.m. a boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water approximately a half-mile north (downstream) of the crash site, the MCSO said.

When searchers probed the water they found a vehicle submerged approximately 4 to 6 feet beneath the water, according to officials.

Search divers entered the water and were able to feel what they believed to be a person inside of the vehicle, the MCSO said. Officials reported that visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current.

Recovery efforts continued for several hours and finally at around 6:30 p.m. the vehicle was partially removed from the Eel River by use of a tow truck. This provided searchers the ability to conduct a visual inspection of the inside of the vehicle.

Searchers subsequently recovered the bodies of Sandeep Thottapilly and Saachi Thottapilly from inside the vehicle, the MCSO said. Sandeep was the father of the family, and Saachi was Sandeep and Soumya's 9-year-old daughter.

On April 15, a body found in the river on April 13 was identified as Soumya Thottapilly, the mother of the children, by the MCSO coroner's office.

Autopsies are expected to be performed this week. The Thottapilly's 12-year-old son, Siddhant Thottapilly, is the only member of the family who has not yet been found.

Another search operation will be conducted on April 16 in and around the Eel River in an attempt to locate Siddhant Thottapilly who still remains missing.

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