A week after the family of Sandeep Thottapilly, an Indian origin banker living and working in the US state of California, was reported missing, there has not been much headway in the case. Search efforts intensified for the family of four who authorities think may have been swept away by a swollen river. Sandeep Thottapilly (42), his wife Soumya (38), son Siddhant (12) and daughter Saachi (9), who lived in the southern Californian city of Valencia, were reportedly travelling from Portland to San Jose, with a planned stop to see relatives in San Jose.
According to local media reports, a witness has now emerged who claims to have seen a vehicle, believed to be the one the family was travelling in, roll over an embankment and disappear in the Eel River north of Leggett.
“I heard my wife say ‘oh, oh, oh’ and at that time the car kept going straight and it was going off the pavement,” he told the local police.
The family was travelling in a maroon Honda Pilot with a California licence plate, the police said. The SUV that the witness spotted matched the description of the vehicle the Thottapilly family owned, they said.
A California Highway Patrol helicopter and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s boat have joined the search.
The vehicle had not been located till the filing of this report.
According to media reports, the Thottapilly family was on their way to San Jose when they stopped communicating with family. Their last known location was the Klamath-Redwood National and State Parks area, roughly 80 kms north of Eureka.
A notice posted on Facebook stated that the family’s relatives in San Jose last heard from the family on April 5, and reported them missing over the weekend after they did not show up for the planned visit.
The San Jose Police Department confirmed that a missing persons report was filed on April 8.
Neighbours have started leaving flowers and messages outside the family’s Valencia home.
A small memorial of 4 candles & some flowers sits in front the Thottapilly’s #SantaClarita home. The family of 4 disappeared while returning home from a road trip to Oregon. A car matching theirs was seen going over the side of Hwy 101 in Mendocino County.
Latest at 11pm @ABC7 pic.twitter.com/6pl8aTHHY8
— Leanne Suter (@abc7leanne) April 11, 2018
Earlier, Gujarat resident Thottapally Babu Subramaniam tweeted to Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on April 9, urging her to help locate his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
“My son Sandeep Thottapilly is residing in California, USA. He and his family are reported missing since last Thursday. Would request your good office to take up… this matter with concerned authorities in USA and help find my son and his family as soon as possible. requesting your kind cooperation. The photo of the missing family is attached herewith. we have taken help of Facebook post to reach out to more and more people in California…,” Babu Subramaniam Thottapily tweeted on April 9.
Replying to this message, Sushma Swaraj tweeted: “I am in constant touch with our Consulate in San Francisco. They are coordinating with the Police. Rest assured. We will spare no effort.”
Sandeep works as a vice-president for Union Bank, according to his Facebook and LinkedIn pages.