Missing Indian family: Eyewitness saw car falling into river

The family has been missing since April 5 after they set out on a road trip from Portland, Oregon to San Jose, California.

By Author  |  Published: 12th Apr 2018  1:00 amUpdated: 12th Apr 2018  9:17 pm
Missing Indian family
Sandeep Thottapilly and his family

Hyderabad: A 67-year-old man and his wife were the first to alert 911 after they saw a vehicle tumbling into the surging waters of the Eel River north of Leggett in California on April 5.

The car, according to local police authorities, is suspected to have been the one in which Union Bank vice-president Sandeep Thottapilly and his family was travelling, though this is yet to be confirmed. The family has been missing since April 5 after they set out on a road trip from Portland, Oregon to San Jose, California.

According to a report in the Redheaded Blackbelt, a local news agency owned and operated by Kym Kemp, 67-year-old Pat Berkowitz ‘caught just a glimpse’ before the vehicle that had been pulling over in front of his car tipped sideways, tumbled over the bank and out of sight.

“Frantically, he called 911 as his wife pulled their car into the next pullout,” the report said.

Berkowitz, a high school teacher, said his wife was driving while he was texting on his cellphone and as his wife suddenly cried out, he noticed the car ahead of them.

“The car was not stopping…It goes up on two wheels and tumbled over the edge,” he told kymkemp.com.

Berkowitz, the report said, went over the edge and down towards the distant river, where he understood that the car was submerged. He could see only oil spreading over the water.

The report quoted locals at the crash site on the Eel River saying that pieces of the vehicle left on the hillside indicated that it had been a maroon Honda Pilot, which matches the missing family’s car.

Meanwhile, intensified search efforts are on by volunteers from Search and Rescue groups across Southern Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, the Southern Humboldt County Technical Rescue and Hopland Fire Department’s swift water rescue teams, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office, Cal Fire, Leggett Volunteer Fire, and Piercy Volunteer Fire.

Items from the wreck were gathered and brought back to shore. But no vehicle and no bodies were located, kymkemp.com reported.

According to a press release by California Highway Patrol, all available resources were being utilized by searching personnel.

“Through the collaborated efforts of all the involved agencies we are working to resolve this incident as quickly and safely as possible. Rescue personnel will be searching the immediate and surrounding areas and constantly evaluating the condition of the river and the weather during the search efforts,” it said.

Sandeep and his family, comprising his wife Soumya, and their children Siddhant and Saachi, were on their way from Portland in a maroon Honda Pilot to San Jose, when they suddenly stopped communicating with relatives in Valencia.