Body Found Along NorCal River Where Santa Clarita Family Disappeared

Erika Holt
April 14, 2018

Authorities are investigating whether a vehicle that went over an embankment and into the Eel River in Mendocino County on Friday may have belonged to a Southern California family reported missing out of San Jose.

Sandeep Thottapilly, his wife Soumya and two children - Siddhanth and Saachi - were on a road trip in a maroon Honda Pilot from Portloand in OR to San Jose in Southern California when a storm made its landfall in Northern California, CBS reported.

On Thursday, deputies said they had recovered debris and personal items along the river belonging to the family.

The family was traveling from Portland, Oregon, to Santa Clarita in a 2016 maroon Honda Pilot.

A 16-year-old African-American girl told neighbors her white mothers were "racist" and that she was "whipped with belts" about six months before one of them is believed to have deliberately driven the family of eight off a California cliff, killing them all, Washington State records showed. The vehicle submerged and vanished before rescuers reached the scene.

Searchers also found items described as consistent with a family traveling on vacation and unspecified personal items that allowed officials to confirm that the vehicle seen plunging into the river was the Thottapilly's SUV.

"The teams were unsuccessful in locating the vehicle or any occupants from the vehicle". Soon after, the family emerged from the house, packed up their brown GMC Yukon and drove off, a witness said, according to the records.

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A California Highway Patrol helicopter and the Humboldt County Sheriff's boat have joined the search.

They were last seen April 5 in Klamath in Del Norte County, and they were scheduled to visit a relative in San Jose last Friday.

The teams covered 12 miles of the riverbank on Tuesday and Wednesday but did not find the Honda or the family members.

The CHP will do a complete mechanical inspection of the vehicle as part of its accident investigation.

Vehicle parts recovered from the water had serial numbers that helped authorities identify the auto as a maroon 2016 Honda Pilot SUV, Taylor said, but the auto itself has not been located.

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

Relatives and friends have circulated a "missing" poster on Facebook with information about the family.

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