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Police say Woman who Drove SUV with Family off Cliff was Drunk

16 April 2018

The sheriff's office released a statement Thursday saying that along with various personal items found that were consistent with a family traveling on vacation, there were several items positively identified by relatives as belonging to the Thottapilly family.

Sandeep and Soumya Thottapilly - along with their children Siddhant, 12, and Saachi, 9 - had been driving from Portland, Oregon, to their home in Santa Clarita, California, north of Los Angeles, according to the San Jose Police Department.

"I have informed the family that at 10:20 this morning the Hunboldt County Sheriff's office boat team recovered a deceased juvenile approximately 7 miles south of the incident", said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman. Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect, but three of their children were not immediately recovered from the scene along the shoreline.

Dorothy, of Mersey Road in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, also shares her home with her two adult sons and their collective four children, over whom she has guardianship.

Authorities have said data from the vehicle's software suggested the crash was deliberate, though the California Highway Patrol has not concluded why the vehicle went off an ocean overlook on a rugged part of coastline.

Searchers are looking for the missing family members and their vehicle which is believed to be submerged somewhere in the Eel River. An autopsy will be conducted by early next week, the police said. They used an underwater probe to see if the vehicle or anything metallic could be located. Allman says DNA analysis from biological family members will be used to determine her identity.

The family from Santa Clarita have not been heard from since late last week when they were in Klamath-Redwood National Park area in Northern California.

And authorities have said social services officials in OR contacted the West Linn Police Department about the family in 2013 while they were living in the area.

The California Highway Patrol developed information that the family were travelling in a family vehicle, a 2016 maroon Honda Pilot.

Anxious acquaintances and relatives shared information online about the Thottapilly family, their smiling faces beaming out from missing persons posters.

Sandeep, originally from Kerala, grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the U.S. over 15 years ago.

Police say Woman who Drove SUV with Family off Cliff was Drunk