LEGGETT (CBSLA/CBS SF) — The body of a woman was discovered Friday along a Northern California river where a Santa Clarita family are believed to have gone missing last week.
The announcement came during a Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office news conference updating reporters on their efforts to locate Sandeep Thottapilly, his wife and two children, whose SUV is believed to have plunged into the Eel River, off Highway 101 near the town of Leggett.
Sheriff’s authorities initially stated that the body belonged to a child, but then later corrected their initial report, stating that the body was in fact that of an adult female.
On Thursday, deputies said they had recovered debris and personal items along the river belonging to the family.
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 that an SUV matching the description of the Pilot may have been swept into the Eel River 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 on April 6. By 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.
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.”
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.