Family of 4 on Road Trip Missing in Same Area Where SUV Plunged Off Cliff with 8 Inside
Authorities are searching for a Californian family of four after they failed to meet relatives as planned during a spring break road trip to Oregon
Authorities are searching for a Californian family of four after they failed to meet relatives as planned during a spring break road trip to Oregon.
Sandeep Thottapilly and his wife, Soumya, left their home in Valencia on the outskirts of Los Angeles on March 30 to take their two children—12-year-old Siddhanty and 9-year-old Saachi — on a road trip to Portland.
They planned to meet with relatives in San Jose during their drive back home on Saturday, according to KTLA, but when they didn’t show up or call, the relatives reported them missing. Loved ones say they have not heard from the family since April 5.
On April 6, a vehicle matching the description of the family’s SUV was reportedly seen falling into a river in Mendocino County, the same county where an SUV went off a cliff, killing two adults and three children late last month. Three other children remain unaccounted for following that incident.
Police believe the Thottapilly’s car was the same one that witnesses reported seeing leaving Highway 101 and going down a steep embankment of the Eel River in heavy rain on Friday.
The vehicle which was completely submerged when emergency responders arrived and the river’s strong currents led to police to call in helicopters to help with the search. They were unable to find the vehicle in the turbulent waters, CNN reports.
According to the LA Times, officers recovered debris from a vehicle that may indicate there was an impact leading up to the accident. The rainfall has made search efforts difficult in the days following the accident.
“It was raining pretty heavily on Friday, which caused the river to swell,” California Highway Patrol officer, William Wunderlich, told The Times. “The current was moving quickly and the clarity was bad due to mud and debris.”
The Santa Clara Valley News reports that Sandeep’s brother, Sachin, has traveled from Canada to help search for the family.
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“I am in San Jose now,” Sachin told the news outlet. “And there are friends who are helping me. I have some cousins from Dallas who are also here to help.”
Brejain Jayashankar, a family friend, posted a missing person’s poster to his Facebook page on Sunday pleading for assistance. It says their last known location is in the Klamath, Redwood National Park-area.
“This was an unfortunate incident and they are definitely in need of help,” he wrote, adding any reports that the family has been found are untrue. “Any help or guidance or resource will give them a chance to survive.”
RELATED VIDEO: Police Believe 6 Children Are Dead After Car Plunges Off Cliff: ‘Entire Family Vanished, Perished’
Where the SUV was reported to have gone into the river is only about 30 miles from the deadly incident last month involving the Hart family.
On March 26, five of the eight members of the family — parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart and three of their children — were discovered dead at the bottom of a cliff.
Jennifer and Sarah Hart along with their six children were in an SUV which plunged off a cliff.
Authorities have also said that Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra Hart, 12, remain unaccounted for and are feared dead.
On Saturday, officials from the California Highway Patrol announced that a body had been found “in the surf” around Highway 1, an area which is “in the immediate vicinity of the recent Hart Family crash.”
The body found on Saturday “appears to be that of an African American Female but the age and a positive identity could not be determined,” states a press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office.
Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said on April 4 that he believes the crash involving the Hart was a crime and not an accident.
There is no suggestion this is the case with the missing Thottapilly family.