UPDATE: Woman’s body found 12 miles downstream from where Valencia family was swept away

Searchers scour Eel River for SUV swept away a week earlier. photo courtesy the Mecocino County Sheriff's Office.

The  body of a woman believed to be a member of a Valencia family missing in Northern California for more than week was found by searchers Friday morning, seven miles downstream from where the family’s SUV was swept into a rushing river.

Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman held a news conference Friday to announce the discovery, initially telling reporters the body was that of a child.

Missing since April 5 are the Thottapilly family — Sandeep, 42, father; Soumya, 38, mother; Siddhant, 12, their son; and 9-year-old Saachi, their daughter.

The body was found at the Dimmick Overcrossing on the Eel River where the family’s SUV was swept away and submerged.

For the last three days, after water levels dropped to a level considered safe enough for searchers to enter, an extensive search by rescuers representing many agencies has been underway to find the SUV.

On Wednesday, searchers found a hat belonging to the father and a sweater worn by the little girl.

“The teams were unsuccessful in locating the vehicle or any occupants from the vehicle,” CHP Officer William Wunderlich wrote in his update posted on the CHP Facebook page.

“They were able to locate numerous items that appeared to have come from a vehicle body and interior. Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle… Several items have been positively identified, by family members, as belonging to the Thottapilly family,” he wrote.

Wunderlich wrote: “These items were of a personal nature and will not be described further at this time, but it does confirm the fact the vehicle that was seen going into the river was that of the Thottapilly family.”

The search continues.

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