A fun road trip took a turn for the worse after authorities made a tragic discovery.
NTD reported that a family of four went missing while on their way home from a road trip after rescue officers found a body in Eel River, Mendocino County.
On April 13, 2018, search officers found the body of a woman believed to be 38-year-old Soumya Thottapilly.
She and her husband, Sandeep Thottapilly, were traveling with their two children, 12-year-old son, Siddhant, and nine-year-old daughter Saachi. The family was missing since April 5, when their relatives had lost contact with them.
According to the relatives, the family was traveling back home from Portland, Oregon. They were to make a planned stop at San Jose to visit family members on April 6, unfortunately, they never arrived.
Authorities said that the family’s SUV may have gone over a 100-foot embankment into the Eel River during heavy rains and could have been swept away in the fast-moving current.
The investigators then began looking for a vehicle that matched the description of an SUV, a Honda Pilot. They got a lead when a passing motorist said they saw a vehicle plunge over the embankment.
Rescue and search officers used kayaks, jet skis, and probes to find the SUV. They pulled out personal items, which relatives have identified as belonging to the family, and pieces of a Honda Pilot.
California Highway Patrol Lt. Randy England said the family may have pulled onto a Highway 101 turnout near Leggett and misjudged the soggy shoulder during heavy rain on April 6.
More than a week later, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said that the bodies of Sandeep and Saachi were found after searchers located the SUV on April 15. A day later the body of their son, Siddhant, was recovered.
The team of 20 searchers and rescuers found the car lying submerged between four and six feet of water and the bodies were inside the vehicle.
County Sheriff Tom Allman said the Thottapillys were a loving East Indian family. Sandeep was a Vice-President at Union Bank, while Soumya was a stay-at-home parent. He said that the relatives have been shocked and devastated by the news.
Sandeep’s parents are based out of Surat, in Gujarat, while his wife’s family stays in Kochi, Kerala, India.
The Sheriff said that during the heavy rains, the Eel River had gained ten feet in depth and had submerged trees in what was a very strong current.
He also confessed that he was touched by relatives of the family who showed concern for the safety of his staff and volunteers of the search.