Hank Sims / @ 9:16 a.m. / News

Mendo Sheriffs’ Search and Rescue Effort Locates Car Submerged in Eel River; Police Confirm That Missing Family Perished in Crash


Photo from the recovery site yesterday. submitted by a reader.

From the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office

Victim(s): 

  • Sandeep Thottapilly, 41 years of age male, Santa Clarita CA
  • Soumya Thottapilly, 38 years of age female, Santa Clarita CA
  • Siddhant Thottapilly, 12 years of age male, Santa Clarita CA
  • Saachi Thottapilly, 9 years of age female, Santa Clarita CA

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On 04-15-2018 approximately 70 searchers were continuing Search & Rescue efforts on the Eel River in Leggett, California.

The search consisted of 21 water searchers which included 2 Jet Ski teams, 2 Boat teams and several Kayak/Carlson board teams.

At approximately 11:30 AM a boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water approximately 1/2 mile north of the reported crash site (down stream).  The searchers began to probe the water and located a vehicle submerged approximately 4-6 feet beneath the water.

Search divers entered the water and were able to feel what they believed to be a person inside of the vehicle.  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 at approximately 6:30 PM 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.

On 04-15-20018 the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office Coroner’s Division was also able to identify the adult female recovered from the Eel River on 04-13-2018 as being Soumya Thottapilly.

Autopsies are expected to be performed this week as part of the Coroner’s investigation into the incident.

Another search operation will be conducted on 04-16-2018 in and around the Eel River in an attempt to locate Siddhant Thottapilly who still remains missing.

The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank the following public safety agencies who assisted in the 04-15-2018 search:

Marin County Fire Department
Southern Marin Fire Department 
Kentfield Fire District
Hopland Fire Department 
Rescue Solutions
Piercy Volunteer Fire Department
Leggett Volunteer Fire Department
Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office
Humboldt County Search & Rescue
Napa County Search & Rescue
Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue Team
Little Lake Fire District
Mendocino County Search & Rescue
CalFire
California Highway Patrol
Graton Fire Department 
Santa Rosa Fire Department 
Sonoma Valley Fire Department
Shasta County Sheriff’s Office
Shasta County Search & Rescue

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