Near Hart Tragedy, a New One Is Confirmed

Family of 4 confirmed dead after vehicle went into flooded river
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2018 6:11 AM CDT
This April 12 photo shows the Eel River in Northern California.   (Lt. Shannon Barney/Mendocino County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
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(Newser) – A family of four whose vehicle plunged into a flooded river on California's north coast, not far from the spot where the Hart family of eight went over a cliff, has been confirmed dead. The body of Soumya Thottapilly, 38, was found Friday in an area previously covered by flood waters, miles from where witnesses reported seeing the family's maroon Honda Pilot fall into the Eel River near Leggett on April 6, reports the Los Angeles Times. On Sunday, searchers smelled gasoline a half-mile north of the reported crash site and found the vehicle submerged, with the bodies of 41-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly and 9-year-old daughter, Saachi, inside, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office announced. The body of 12-year-old son, Siddhant, was found submerged in the river, six miles north of the crash site, on Monday afternoon, reports the AP.

The Thottapilly family—whose personal items were also found in the river—had been traveling from Portland, Ore., to their home in Santa Clarita, Calif. They were reported missing April 8 by a relative in San Jose, who said the family hadn’t arrived for a visit as planned. Authorities now believe the family’s vehicle pulled into a turnoff on Highway 101, about 200 miles northwest of San Jose, before plunging into the river. While the New York Times reports a broken car part was found, California Highway Patrol suggests the crash was an accident. The driver may have tried to pull over in a rainstorm but misjudged where the road ended, authorities say. CHP Capt. Bruce Carpenter says the crash and the one that killed the Hart family are "unprecedented for this county," per the LA Times. "Our hearts go out to these families." (More on the Hart case here.)

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