LEGGETT (CBSLA) — The personal belongings of a Santa Clarita family of four missing since last week have been found in a Northern California river, authorities said.

Personal items belonging to the Thottapilly family were located in and around the Eel River, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and California Highway Patrol reported in a joint news release Thursday.

Search teams “were able to locate numerous items that appeared to have come from a vehicle body and interior,” the news release read. “Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle. Also located were various personal items that were consistent with a family traveling on vacation. Several items have been positively identified, by family members, as belonging to the Thottapilly family.”

On Wednesday, search teams located parts of what may have been the family’s Honda Pilot along the banks of the Eel River.

The Thottapilly family were on a spring break road trip from Portland to San Jose when they lost contact with relatives on Thursday, April 5.

The family was last heard from near the Oregon-California border, possibly near the Northern California community of Klamath or in the Redwood National and State Parks.

A California Highway Patrol spokesperson said earlier this week an SUV matching the description of the Pilot may have been swept into the Eel River off Highway 101, north of the town of Leggett in rural Mendocino County, during the storm that hit Northern California last week.

The family didn’t arrive for a scheduled stopover at a relative’s house in San Jose April 6. By Sunday, April 8, relatives had reported the family missing to San Jose police and an alert was sent out.

“The vehicle was completely submerged in the river due to the heavy rain,” CHP Officer William Wunderlich told CBS San Francisco Tuesday. “We are working on finding the vehicle but we are not able to locate it.”

Runoff from the heavy downpours at the crash scene made going into the river last Friday extremely dangerous.

“The water levels rose very rapidly Friday afternoon,” Wunderlich said. “The water current was very strong that day along with the clarity of the river — it was hard to see through because of all the added mud and debris.”

In Santa Clarita, meanwhile, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s investigators were working to obtain search warrants for cellphone carriers to see where the family members’ phones last pinged.

The missing Thottapilly family consists of 42-year-old Sandeep, his 38-year-old wife Soumya and their children, 12-year-old Siddhant and 9-year-old Saachi.

Saachi attends Meadows Elementary School in Santa Clarita, the Santa Clarita Valley Signal newspaper reports. Siddhant graduated from Meadows last year.


Leave a Reply