Car With 2 Bodies Has Been Stuck in Calif. River for Weeks

Officials, families believe the bodies are of 2 Thai exchange students
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 11, 2017 6:00 PM CDT
Car With 2 Bodies Has Been Stuck in Calif. River for Weeks
Officials say they're doing everything they can to retrieve the car and bodies.   (Fresno County Sheriff's Office, via the Fresno Bee)

For more than two weeks, a red car has been perched atop a rock in the rapids of California's Kings River, with law enforcement and rescue teams trying to figure out how to get it out—and Thai officials say the two bodies spotted inside the car are of two Thai exchange students, per CNN. Police say signs were found July 26 of a car that went off a freeway and over a cliff near Kings Canyon National Park, and a helicopter flying over the Kings River soon spotted a car immersed in "raging waters" made more intense by the warm weather's snow melt. Two days later, a nearby hotel that had heard about the accident informed police that two Thai tourists had left the hotel on the morning of July 26 and never returned. The Thai Consulate in Los Angeles says it has notified the families of the missing students, though the bodies haven't been officially ID'd.

The Fresno Bee reports a letter from a relative to the US Embassy in Thailand has named the missing exchange students from the University of South Florida as Bhakapon Chairatanathongporn and Thiwadee Saengsuriyari, ages 28 and 24, respectively, per the Standard Republic. The families are said to be frustrated by retrieval efforts, with the relative's letter claiming Thai rescue teams would've had the car out "within 12 hours." Local officials say they're doing everything they can, trying to work with the geography, weather, and water levels to figure out the safest way for rescue personnel to do their jobs. Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig understands the families' pain all too well: He tells the Bee his father was killed in a plane crash in the mountains in 1998, and due to bad weather, it took nearly a week to find the plane and retrieve his body. "Some of those memories have come back, and my heart really goes out to these families," he says. (More missing person stories.)

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