It was supposed to be a fun family road trip to Oregon, but the Thottapilly family never returned.
As KTLA News reports, 42-year-old Sandeep Thottapilly took his wife Soumya, 12-year-old son Siddhant, and 9-year-old daughter Saachi on a spring break trip to Portland, Oregon. The family left their home in California on March 30, and were supposed to reach a relative’s house in San Jose on their way home on April 6. But they never arrived.Screenshot/KBCW
When two days passed without word from the missing family, relatives contacted police and a search was launched to find them.
The Thottapillys were last in contact on April 5, when they were thought to be in Northern California’s Klamath-Redwood National Park area. Now, authorities fear that they may have been swept off the highway into a swollen river.
According to CBS San Francisco, a witness reported seeing an SUV matching the description of the Thottapilly vehicle crashing into the Eel River near Leggett, California on April 6. The area had been experiencing storms and conditions on the river have been treacherous for several days.
California Highway Patrol Officer William Wunderlich told The Signal they were investigating a report that a maroon Honda Pilot slid into the river on Friday:
“The vehicle was completely submerged in the river due to the heavy rain. We are working on finding the vehicle but we are not able to locate it.”
Wunderlich added that the Thottapilly vehicle (a 2016 maroon Honda Pilot, license plate 7MMX138) is similar to the one in the crash, but said they cannot confirm that it’s the same car that disappeared into the river:
“We have personnel at the scene searching, as well as CalFire Rescue crews searching so we are constantly evaluating the situation. We’re searching a broad area but because of the moving river it’s a difficult search.”
While the California Highway Patrol continues to search the river for the missing SUV, friends and family have not given up hope that the Thottapilly family will be found. One neighbor told KTLA:
“They’re good people. I hope they find them. I just hope they’re lost. They went on a road trip and maybe they’re lost. I’ve been lost.”
On Tuesday night, members of the community held a prayer service outside the family’s home in Valencia, California. Neighbor Lynn McTaggart told KTLA:
“We’re praying for the family, for their family, we’re praying for ourselves. And I’ll tell you what, this has brought our neighborhood together.”
Anyone with information about the missing family is urged to contact local authorities or call 813-616-3091.