Personal items belonging to a missing Valencia family were found in a rain-swollen Northern California river, and a vehicle that was seen going into the river last week was confirmed to be the one in which the family was traveling, California Highway Patrol officials said Thursday.
The Thottapilly family — father Sandeep, 42, mother Soumya, 38, and their two children, son Siddhant, 12, and daughter Saachi, 9 — were traveling from Portland, Oregon, to San Jose. They “suddenly stopped communicating with family in Valencia” last Thursday, and a notice of the family’s absence was posted Monday on Facebook as a “Missing” poster. The notice reads: “We lost contact with them on April 5. Last known location is around Klamath — Redwood National Park Area” in Northern California near the Oregon border.
The family was traveling in a Maroon Honda Pilot. According to the CHP, a vehicle matching that description was reported to have gone into the Eel River north of Leggett last Friday. Weather conditions at the time prevented a thorough search of the river, but authorities recovered a car part that came from a maroon Honda Pilot, according to the CHP.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, weather conditions in the area improved enough for a search team to enter the river on inflatable boats and use poles to probe the water. According to the CHP, the crews were unable to find the vehicle or any people, but they found more items consistent with a Honda vehicle.
“Also located were various personal items that were consistent with a family traveling on vacation,” according to the CHP. “Several items have been positively identified, by family members, as belonging to the Thottapilly family. These items were of a personal nature and will not be described further at this time, but it does confirm the fact the vehicle that was seen going into the river was that of the Thottapilly family.”
Crews have not yet actually located the vehicle or its occupants.
CHP and Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office authorities have scheduled a news conference for noon Friday to give an update on the search.