Search For Missing Valencia Family Continues After Vehicle Plunges Into River

A large scale air and ground search was launched due to fears Mr Duncan had been attacked by a crocodile in Chinaman Creek when he didn't return home last night

A large scale air and ground search was launched due to fears Mr Duncan had been attacked by a crocodile in Chinaman Creek when he didn't return home last night

The body of a young child has been discovered along a Northern Calfornia river by teams searching for a missing family whose SUV crashed into the rain-swollen waterway last week, authorities said Friday.

Sandeep Thottapilly (42), his wife Soumya (38), son Siddhant (12) and daughter Saachi (9), who lived in the southern Californian city of Valencia, were reportedly travelling from Portland to San Jose, with a planned stop to see relatives in San Jose.

According to media reports, the Thottapilly family was on their way to San Jose when they stopped communicating with family.

Several items have been positively identified, by family members, as belonging to the Thottapilly family. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

"Based on our preliminary investigation and witness statements, we believe the vehicle was a 2016 or 2017 Honda Pilot maroon in color".

Personal items belonging to the Thottapilly family were located in and around the Eel River, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and California Highway Patrol reported in a joint news release Thursday.

After a thorough search of the riverbanks on April 10 and 11, authorities have confirmed that auto did belong to the Thottapilly family.

Also located were various personal items that were consistent with a family traveling on vacation. Crews have recovered auto parts and some of their belongings, authorities said.

Wednesday marked the second full day the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol, Garberville Area Office, continued their efforts along the South Fork of the Eel River, just north of the town of Leggett CA, to locate and recover the SUV.


Sheriff's officials confirmed the debris from the SUV confirms it belongs to the missing Valencia family, according to the Associated Press. The Sheriff's Office and the California Highway Patrol agreed to do continuous evaluations as the river levels receded.

Sheriff deputies and the California Highway Patrol have been working since last week to locate and recover the vehicle.

"Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle", the CHP said in the Facebook post.

Authorities did not elaborate on items that were found in the river this week, but said that a vehicle seen going into the river on April 6, when a massive storm swamped areas of Northern California.

Search teams climbed into inflatable boats and got on River Boards - a small floatation device created to allow full access under overhanging trees or tight areas not accessible by boat.

Between the two search days, the teams were able to cover approximately 12 miles of river bank.

The Humboldt County Sheriffs Office also assisted with the use of their jet boat with side scan sonar system.

Later, Mendocino County Sheriff declared them as missing persons.

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