Officials in Fresno, California, are looking to enlist help from the U.S. military to retrieve the bodies of two Thai students out of a vehicle that plunged 500 feet off a cliff from Highway 180, near Kings Canyon National Park, and into the Kings River on July 26.
“Our research and rescue team the commander is meeting with military personnel and they are taking a look at some other things to try to get some military [personnel] involved to help with this effort,” Public Information Officer Tony Botti told Breitbart News.
Botti said the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and the Thai Consulate of Los Angeles have been working together since news of the tragedy took place to create a plan to remove the car from Kings River.
Despite their best efforts, authorities say they are finding it difficult to access the vehicle, which is stuck on a large rock in the middle of the Kings River.
Asked what was making it difficult to extract the car from the river, Botti said, “It’s a mixture of things. The car is in a deep canyon, about 500 feet down. The water is rushing really strong, and at times we get some good gusts of wind that come into there. So, there are a lot of challenges we are facing. So we are just considering the best operation plan.
The mangled red vehicle, believed to be carrying the bodies of a young man and woman, landed on a rock in the Kings River two weeks ago. According to the Fresno Bee, one of the women in the car is believed to be Thiwadee Sangsuriyarit, an exchange student from Thailand who was reportedly identified by a friend after she lost contact with the duo.
The students reportedly rented a car for their road trip. When the students did not return to their hotel room in Reedly, authorities were contacted, which is when they learned of the crash. Botti said the California Highway Patrol noticed a portion of the guard rail was missing, and when they looked down into the river, they noticed the vehicle.
“We were told it was a man and a woman that is in the car together,” Botti said, noting that authorities are not confirming anything “until we can actually extract them and identify them. The family and the media are putting that out there because it seems like the obvious answer but we can’t officially make an announcement on it.”
Botti added: “Some felt like we maybe weren’t doing our most to get out but there were a lot of difficult circumstances between terrain and weather and flow of the water.”
According to a press release, the Search and Rescue (SAR) team “is assessing the conditions of the weather and water flows on a daily basis as they work to construct a recovery plan. Recovering the bodies is a top priority, but safety for our personnel is also a top concern and it will dictate any efforts we make moving forward with the operation.”
The release further noted, “The date of when this will happen is still to be determined.”