External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj has confirmed the death of all four members of the Indian family that had gone missing during a road trip between Oregon to California in US. Taking to Twitter, Sushma expressed grief over the tragic deaths of Sandeep Thottapilly and his family.
She further confirmed that all the four bodies of the family members had been recovered from Eel river in California, adding that the government was helping their relatives in India get visa to travel to US.
The External Affairs Minister tweeted, “My heartfelt condolences on the tragic deaths of Sandeep Thotapilly, Soumya and their two children. All the four bodies have been recovered from Eel river in California (US). We are helping their families in the visa process to enable their travel to US.”
My heartfelt condolences on the tragic deaths of Sandeep Thotapilly, Soumya and their two children. All the four bodies have been recovered from Eel river in California (US). We are helping their families in the visa process to enable their travel to US. https://t.co/lIO7v8qGI4
— Sushma Swaraj (@SushmaSwaraj) April 17, 2018
Earlier reports had said that body of two of the family members – Sandeep Thottapilly and his 9-year-old daughter Saachi – were found inside their SUV which was submerged in Eel River. Two days before the recovery of their body, the investigators had also found the body of Sandeep’s wife Saumya. However, there was earlier no clue of the whereabout of their son, Siddhant.
According to The Washington Post,a poster shared on social networking website Facebook suggested that the vehicle in which the family travelled was a 2016-make Honda Pilot, maroon or burgundy in colour.
"At approximately 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 had 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 at approximately 6:30 PM the vehicle was partially removed from the Eel River by use of a tow truck. This provided searchers the ability to conduct a visual inspection of the inside of the vehicle.
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. Sandeep grew up in Surat in Gujarat and settled down in the US over 15 years ago.
(With PTI inputs)