Motorized Boat and Helicopter Join the Search for Vehicle Submerged in the Eel River

Today, a California Highway Patrol helicopter and the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department’s motorized boat have joined the search for the vehicle which rolled over the embankment and disappeared into the Eel River north of Leggett on April 6. The search for the vehicle has been the subject of international attention as there is a missing family with ties to India who are believed to have planned to travel through the area at roughly the same day as the vehicle went off the road.

In the video above taken by a local resident, the CHP helicopter began circling the Eel River around the accident site this morning. “River conditions are improving,” explained Officer William Wunderlich of the Garberville CHP office. The waters are receding and clearing up.

In addition, the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department’s motorized boat, equipped with what Diana Totten from Southern Humboldt Technical Search and Rescue called “forward-looking sonar,” is using radio waves to search for underwater obstacles.

Inside, the boat, a team member holds a long probe also used for locating sunken items.

Wunderlich said that once the vehicle is located, then divers will attempt to determine if bodies are inside. “If anything is missing,” he said, “then other plans will have to be put in place.”

Totten pointed out that multiple agencies and volunteer organizations are working together again today to search for the missing vehicle. “All stops are being pulled out,” she said.

Note: The agencies and organizations involved are:

  • Southern Humboldt Technical Rescue
  • Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Boat Team
  • California Highway Patrol Helicopter based in Redding, California
  • Piercy Fire Department
  • Leggett Valley Fire Department
  • Swift Water Component Teams – Little Lake Fire Department , Ukiah Valley Fire Department and Hopland Fire Departm

UPDATE: Searchers Believe They Have Located Thottapilly Vehicle; Recovery Efforts Underway

Earlier Chapters for Vehicle Swallowed by the Eel River: 



  • Thank you LE and rescuers for your commitment and time. A lot of you are volunteers. Let’s bring closure to family and recovery team. Keep in mind that body recovery is no ones cup of tea.

  • Dear Kymp,

    I really appreciate your sincere and honest reporting on this tragic incident and follow up regularly.

    The family was very close to me, so updates like these are very helpful in ensuring that right focus is been applied to find the missing vehicle and persons.

    I also take this opportunity to thank you with sincerest gratitude Tom all those volunteers and agencies involved to locate in this effort.

    God Bless You

    • I’m so sorry. My heart aches for you.

    • I am glad to help in any way.

    • I’m so sorry for you and your loved ones. Sarah said it perfectly “My heart aches for you”. I hope you will have answers soon and can find peace.

    • Sending the ones who loved these people my condolences and healing energy. I live right on the river, very close to the last seen location. Rescuers, responders, local agencies and volunteers have been looking every day. Very intense search. The river is so high and powerful right now from all the recent rains. The last two days it finally droped down a little, but as another storm came today it has risen again. They were searing today until the rains started. I hope with all my heart that they are found soon.

  • A big magnet would work very well

  • The river is already risen so much since this morning. I’m sure this storm will hinder search efforts, but hopefully stir things up enough to make it easier when they resume.

  • Really hope this car gets found so the family has closer, has anyone used a magnetic device that would help determine maybe the ware abouts the car might b located under water I’ve seen it done and it works to help determine finding metals under water ?But many prayers go out to the friends and family to this tragedy, drive safe people and take ur time, also ignore the driver behind you if there really driving like idiots it’s not worth it!!!!!!!

  • Any updates yet?

  • Thank you for all updates. The missing family is our neighbor. Kind, wonderful, people.

    A special thank you to the all the volunteers and rescue agencies and to Kym.

  • Dear Kymp
    Thank you for all updates. I am his colleague where Sandeep sits 2 cubicles away from me at work. I have no words to say how sad I am of Sandeep and family. All other colleagues are in deep shock and tears . We all are saying miracle might happen and we will see Sandeep soon. God bless all rescue staff and volunteers for their search efforts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *