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Last Updated Tuesday January 22 2019 02:55 PM IST

Kerala family of 4 perished in US, last missing body found

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US rescuers find bodies of missing Keralite, daughter; son still missing Sandeep Thottapilly along with his wife Soumya, son Siddhant and daughter Saachi, went missing 11 days ago

Washington: Searchers have found the body of the last missing member of a Keralite family which perished when their SUV plunged into a swollen river in the US state of California some 11 days ago.

The rescue team on Monday evening recovered the body of Siddhant Thottapilly, 12, the last to be found after the family of four went missing.

Earlier on Monday morning, the bodies of Sandeep Thottapilly, 41, and his daughter Saachi, nine, were found inside the vehicle, a Honda Pilot, which was recovered from about 4-6 feet of river water, the police said.  

Sandeep along with his family went missing while they were driving from Portland, Oregon, to San Jose in Southern California.

Last week, the rescue team had found the body of a woman, later identified to be that of Soumya, and remains of the vehicle and the belongings of the Thottapilly family.  

"At 11:30 am, a boating team noticed a gasoline smell emitting from the water approximately 1/2 mile north of the reported crash site (downstream). The searchers began to probe the water and located a vehicle submerged approximately 4-6 feet beneath the water," California's Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Soon thereafter, search divers entered the water and were able to feel what they believed to be a person inside of the vehicle. Visibility was extremely poor and divers noted the vehicle was encased in a large amount of sediment from the river current, a media release said.

Recovery efforts continued for several hours and around 6:30 pm the vehicle was partially removed from the Eel River. This provided searchers the ability to conduct a visual inspection of the inside of the vehicle.

"Searchers subsequently recovered the bodies of Sandeep Thottapilly and Saachi Thottapilly from inside the vehicle," the Sheriff Office said adding that the autopsies are expected to be performed this week as part of the coroner's investigation into the incident.

According to the San Jose Police Department, the Thottapilly family was supposed to have arrived to visit a friend in the San Jose area on April 6 but did not make it as scheduled. The family was last heard from in the town of Klamath, Del Norte County, on April 5.

The family was officially reported as missing to the San Jose Police Department on April 8.

Sandeep, originally from Kerala, grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the US over 15 years ago. His wife Soumya was from Kochi.

Read more: latest Kerala news

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