Search crews Friday morning recovered a woman’s body from the Eel River, a week after a missing Southern California family’s car fell into its waters during an intense rainstorm.
The body was pulled from the water at 10:20 a.m. by Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office searchers scanning the river about 7 miles north of where Sandeep and Soumya Thottapilly, as well as their children Siddhant, 12, and Saachi, 9, are believed to have been plunged into its strong current, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said.
The body was described early Friday as a child’s, but officials later said it was that of an adult woman.
On Thursday, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said it had found belongings of the Thottapilly family of Santa Clarita, as well as car parts from their SUV about 14 miles downriver from where investigators believe they rolled down an embankment.
A witness told investigators they saw a maroon SUV, possibly a Honda Pilot, crash into the river north of Leggett around 1:10 p.m. April 6, the CHP said.
The SUV pulled onto a gravel turnout during a severe rainstorm but parked too close to the river on the soft shoulder, and the ground gave way, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said.
Because of the storm, the river was too dangerous for search crews to get in the water until Tuesday. Crews used inflatable boats, river boards, jet skis and kayaks. A CHP helicopter aided the search from the air.
Staff Writer Kevin McCallum contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Christi Warren at 707-521-5205 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeaWarren.