Authorities say a woman who drove off a California cliff last month in an SUV carrying her wife and children was drunk.
The Thottapilly family from Valencia, a neighborhood in Santa Clarita, California - Sandeep Thottapilly, 42, wife Sowmya, 38, their son Siddhant, 12 and daughter Saachi, 9 were traveling through Humboldt and Mendocino County on US-101.
Before the family was reported missing, authorities were already searching for a vehicle that had been seen falling into the roiling Eel River on April 6. After not turning up as expected at their house, family members started worrying for them.
Initially, Allman said the body was that of a child but the sheriff's office later corrected that it was a woman's.
"The body was found on exposed terrain which appeared to have covered by the Eel River within the last few days as a result of a recent weather storm which brought heavy rain to the area".
Investigators began to examine the possibility that the disappearance might be linked to a report that the highway patrol received on April 6 of a vehicle plummeting into the Eel River from US 101, a north-south highway that runs through Washington State, Oregon and California.
Authorities are also continuing to search for members of another family farther south along the Mendocino County coast.
"The teams were unsuccessful in locating the vehicle".
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. On the morning of March 25, Jennifer Hart was recorded on surveillance video at a Safeway in Fort Bragg, about 15 miles south of where the family was found dead the next day.
"Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle".
The family was last heard from in the town of Klamath, Del Norte County, on April 5.
The vehicle appears to have left a highway for a dirt turnout, then accelerated on that turnout for about 70 feet until it went off the cliff, authorities said, citing data from the vehicle's software and air bag module.
Sandeep, originally from Kerala, grew up in Surat city in Gujarat and settled down in the United States over 15 years ago.