Officials in Mendocino County continued efforts Wednesday to locate a vehicle spotted in the Eel River that may belong to the Thottapilly family from Valencia, who were on a road trip from Portland, Oregon south to San Jose and reported missing April 5.
The last known location of Sandeep Thottapilly, 42, his 38-year-old wife Soumya, their 12-year-old son Siddhant, and 9-year-old daughter Saachi was in the Redwood National Park area near Klamath.
They were traveling in a maroon Honda Pilot, California license number 7MMX138.
Swift water and rain have hampered search efforts, as reported by the California Highway Patrol’s Garberville office on its Facebook page Tuesday and Wednesday:
“On April 6, 2018, at approximately 1310 hours, Humboldt Communications Center received a report of a vehicle over the side of a steep embankment on US-101, south of Dora Creek in Northern Mendocino County.
“Upon the arrival of emergency personnel, the involved vehicle was completely submerged in the Eel River.
“The California Highway Patrol, Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue, Piercy Volunteer Fire, and Leggett Volunteer Fire Department all responded to the scene to assist.
“However, due to the strong river current, and the poor clarity, the vehicle was unable to be located.
“CHP and emergency personnel have continuously searched and monitored the river in attempts to locate the vehicle. CHP has also utilized its helicopter in attempts to locate the vehicle.
“On April 10, the Garberville CHP established a joint incident command with Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Cal-Fire, Leggett Volunteer Fire, Piercy Volunteer Fire and Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue to organize continuous search efforts for the missing vehicle and occupants.
“All available resources are being utilized by searching personnel.
“Through the collaborated efforts of all the involved agencies, we are working to resolve this incident as quickly and safely as possible.
“Rescue personnel will be searching the immediate and surrounding areas and constantly evaluating the condition of the river and the weather during the search efforts.
“This incident remains under investigation by the Garberville CHP Office.”
As of 3:15 Wednesday, authorities had not located the vehicle or any possible occupants, according to an updated post:
“The search continues for the vehicle which left the roadway and plunged into the Eel River last Friday.
“Today search crews from multiple agencies proactively searched the river with assistance from a CHP helicopter.
“Unfortunately, the rain has returned to the region which could limit some of the techniques deployed by search teams.
“The search teams will continue to evaluate the conditions of the river and the current weather going forward.”
Sachin Thottapilly, the brother of Sandeep, flew to San Jose from Canada to help in the search. Cousins from Dallas were also helping, Thottapilly said.
After the family filed a missing persons report in San Jose on Thursday, the police department there deployed the first search crews on Saturday.