For nearly a week, investigators in Northern California have been searching for a family of four who vanished during a road trip. Finally, the rain-swollen river where the rescuers have been focusing their search has given up its first clues, authorities said.
Previously, personal items that were “consistent with a family traveling on vacation” as well as parts from a car that belonged to the missing family had been plucked from the fast-moving waters of the Eel River, which winds through five counties for nearly 200 miles.
“It does confirm the fact the vehicle that was seen going into the river was that of the Thottapilly family,” the California Highway Patrol said late Thursday.
Conditions in the Eel River, engorged with several days’ worth of rainfall, had hampered the search effort. But its waters may have begun to recede.
“The body was found on exposed terrain” that appeared to have been covered by recent heavy rains, Capt. Gregory L. Van Patten, field services commander of the sheriff’s office, wrote in the statement.
Since identification of the body is pending, all four members of the family — Sandeep, 42, a bank executive; his wife, Soumya, 38; and their children, Siddhant, 12, and Saachi, 9 — are still considered missing. An autopsy is scheduled for next week.
The Thottapilly family had taken a road trip from their home in Santa Clarita, California, to Oregon for spring break. On their return April 5, they spoke of plans to stop and visit relatives in San Jose the following day, the San Jose Police Department said in a statement.
But they never made it, and it was the last anyone heard from them, police said.
On April 8, the relatives in San Jose contacted the police department and officially reported the family missing, telling authorities that the family had been traveling from Portland.
India’s minister of external affairs, Sushma Swaraj, said Wednesday that she had been in touch with her country’s consulate in San Francisco after Sandeep Thottapilly’s father, who lives in Gujarat, a state in western India, asked for her help.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.