Eel River bodies confirmed as missing family

Bodies of three members of a Southern California family who went missing earlier this month have been found and one of the children is still missing, Mendocino County sheriff’s officials said Monday morning.

The Thottapilly family — Sandeep, 41, Soumya, 38, Siddhant, 12, and Saachi, 9 — were returning home to Santa Clarita from a vacation in Portland, Oregon, when they were reported missing by a relative who had expected them to show up at their San Jose residence on April 6 but still had not seen them two days later, according to San Jose police.

Approximately 70 searchers on Sunday were continuing ongoing search and rescue efforts on the Eel River in Leggett, where it was confirmed Thursday that the Thottapilly family’s car had gone over the side of a steep embankment and been completely submerged.

A boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water. The smell was noticed around 11:30 a.m. a half-mile north of the reported crash site. Searchers began to probe the water and located the maroon Honda Pilot 4 to 6 feet beneath the water, according to the sheriff’s office.

Divers entered and felt a body inside the vehicle, deputies said. Visibility was “extremely poor” and divers noted that the vehicle was covered in sediment from the river current.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., the vehicle was partially removed from the river with the assistance of a tow truck, and searchers recovered the bodies of Sandeep and Saachi from inside the car, sheriff’s officials said.

The same day, the county coroner identified the body of a woman recovered from the river 7 miles from the crash site on Friday as Soumya.

Autopsies of the family’s bodies will be performed this week.

Searchers will continue to attempt to find Siddhant in another operation scheduled for today, deputies said.