Thottapilly Car Pulled Up to Roadside

Tow trucks at the scene today to pull up the Thottapilly's Honda Pilot.

Tow trucks were brought to the area above where the vehicle was located yesterday to pull the Thottapilly’s Honda Pilot up onto the bank. [Photo by Talia Rose]

Today, the Thottapilly family’s Honda Pilot that tumbled into the swollen Eel River on April 6 was hauled up from the bank of the river where it had been hauled yesterday. The vehicle had traveled about a half mile downstream from the original crash site.

The vehicle rested on the bank above the river and down a steep cliff near Riverdale.

This morning, the vehicle rested on the bank above the Eel River and down a steep cliff near Riverdale. [Photo by Don Roberts]

About 11:30 yesterday, a boating team located the vehicle by catching the scent of gasoline rising from a curve in the river. The searchers began probing and discovered the vehicle partially buried in silt under four to six feet of water. They also located what they believed to be a person inside of the vehicle.

The rest of the day, crews worked to pull the vehicle out of the water while being careful not to lose its contents. The bodies of Sandeep and Saachi Thottapilly were recovered.

Today, the vehicle was brought up the cliff to Hwy 101.

Today, the vehicle was brought up the cliff to Hwy 101. [Photo by Don Roberts]

Crews worked in the pouring rain and dark until 10:30 p.m. before stopping for the night as it was just too dangerous to continue.

Today, because the car was filled with silt and it was incredibly heavy, workers using one of the large tow trucks shown at the top, pulled the vehicle up to the roadside. The process took hours.

The Thottapilly’s Honda loaded onto the flatbed. [Photo by Talia Rose]

There, the battered vehicle was loaded onto a flatbed and towed away.

UPDATE: Thottapilly Family Together: 12-Year-Old Siddhant’s Body Found Today, All Accounted For Now

Earlier Chapters in the Thottapilly accident: 




  • This is a very sad and tragic event. By all appearances a very nice, loving and normal family.

  • Really? Do you have it in you to imagine this happened to some of your family or even yourself? Then to have someone nitpicking grammar. Sometimes I am so utterly disappointed in human behavior, as I am now. Your lack of compassion is appalling.

  • Absolutely horrible, devastating to the community, it is just unimaginable what it must be to friends and family. Peace to all.

  • Very sad.

  • Thank you to all who worked so hard to recover this family and their car. I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to do this kind of work. You are greatly appreciated for your fortitude in such tragic circumstances.

  • Thank you everyone who worked relentlessly to recover the bodies. Decreased family head was my friend and colleague. Very sad and heart breaking. A happy family taken away so early from the earth, RIP

  • So sorry to the family 😢

  • Yes so sorry for this poor family’s tragedy could you imagine losing four family members all at once in an accident that would be horrible. I think having good tires is really important for driving in all types of weather especially in a unexpected down pour of heavy rain.

    • unbridled philistine

      Tires? I agree their tires look kind of bald? Hard to tell in the picture tho…

    • This is not a case if vehicle or driver fault. They pulled over in a turnout and the road gave way. I’m guessing Caltrans is at fault and possible liable.

      • Bluehaired Hillbetty

        There are many Caltrans employees that take these accidents personally. Most who work for Caltrans are community members with many loved ones who drive and unfortunately wreck on these roads. The article says the roadway gave way, which happens in this country when we have lots of rain. Swollen rivers eat at the hillsides and cause erosion. I have been told to never pull over unless it is a paved turnout because the grass can be slick, as well as mud can cause your vehicle to slide.

        This is a terrible, unfortunate ACCIDENT my heart goes out to the family.

        • I’m always grateful for those who take care of the roads. Especially when the rest of us are riding out the storms at home.

    • Your tires have no impact on the highway’s edge crumbling out from underneath your car! Either follow the story or stay out of the comments. Go back and read the section about the people who saw it happen. Geeze!

  • the witness directly behind said he never saw break lights and the vehicle headed off the road and started rolling right into the river. by the time he could safely pull over and go back the car was completely gone. does any one know if he was telling the truth???

    • He knows. If anyone else knows, then we will know when they say so.

      This kind of innuendo will create even more chill in bystanders wanting to get involved. And that is something no one should want.

    • If it had not been for this witness, we would not now know what happened. The family would have simply disappeared somewhere between Oregon and SoCal. How crummy that your primary thought is that he is suspect! Have you no imagination for the other myriad, nearly infinite, possibilities that might have caused this accident?

      Why don’t you wonder if the driver fell asleep?

    • If the witness hadn’t reported, this would have become a missing person case, and SAR teams would be searching Klamath forests for months on end, only to give up a couple of months later. A small plane went missing in the bay area in 1963, but was found in 1991, when Calaveras reservoir in the bay area almost went dry. Is that what you want to happen?

      Even in the worst case, someone is tailgating you, so what? It is raining, and let the car behind you tail gate you.

  • Very very sad

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