A car that plunged 500 feet off a cliff two weeks ago with two Thai college students thought to be on board remains lodged in the middle of the swollen Kings River as officials try to figure out how to get it out.
Fresno County Sheriff’s recovery team has confirmed there are two bodies in the car, but their identities have not been confirmed. Thai consulate officials notified the county coroner’s office saying that they believe the victims are two college exchange students.
Recovering the car from the steep and narrow channel and sending recovery crews into a river with treacherous flows presents recovery officials with a tricky problem. Search and rescue officials can’t recall a similar situation in recent years, said Tony Botti, sheriff’s spokesman.
The car crashed off Highway 180 on July 26. The vehicle went over a cliff near Convict Flat and landed in the Kings River, where it rests perched precariously on a rock.
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Since then, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office has been working with the California Highway Patrol and Thai consulate in Los Angeles to formulate a plan to remove the car from the river.
The search and rescue team is continuing to assess the weather and water flow. The hope is that water recedes over the coming days to allow a vehicle recovery.
While recovering the bodies is a top priority, Botti said, safety for rescue personnel also remains a concern and will govern recovery efforts.
“We are talking with different agencies around the state with equipment that could be of a benefit to us,” he said.