Bodies of Indian family missing in US found, confirms Swaraj
Washington: The bodies of all four members of an Indian family, which perished when their sport utility vehicle plunged into a river in California earlier this month, have been found, the authorities said.
Searchers recovered the submerged bodies of Sandeep Thotapilly, 41, and his daughter, Saachi, 9, from the Eel River in Leggett, California, on Sunday, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement on Monday.
A body recovered last week was later identified as Thotapilly's wife, Soumya, 38. The body of the couple's son, Siddhant, 12, was discovered around 4 pm on Monday. He was the last to be found, confirmed the authorities.
Confirming the same, India's foreign affairs minister Sushma Swaraj condoled the saddening demise of the family.
The family were on a road trip to Oregon and were returning to their home in California, when they went missing.
They were reported missing on April 8 when they failed to show up for a visit at their relatives place in San Jose.
Bodies of Thottapilly and his daughter were found inside the SUV lying submerged between 4 and 6 feet of water. The smell of gasoline coming from the water led divers to the vehicle, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.
The vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current and it took hours for the car to be towed out, leading to the removal of the two bodies, the sheriff's office was cited as saying by the New York Times.
The boy's body was found about six miles north of where the family's vehicle was said to have crashed.
The California Highway Patrol said it did not believe there was any foul play. The family's maroon Honda Pilot was seen falling into the river in northern Mendocino County from a pullout during an April 6 rainstorm. They had been travelling south from Oregon along Highway 101 when the incident occurred, officials said.
"The vehicle attempted to pull over to the shoulder into a big pullout, and the vehicle came close to coming to a stop but ended up going over the edge and into the river," said Lt. Randy England of the California Highway Patrol.
Last week, investigators found personal items belonging to the Thottapilly family in the Eel River. Authorities said they found "various personal items consistent with a family travelling on vacation" during the course of the two-day search.
They said that relatives of the Thottapilly family positively identified the items as belongings of their family members.