The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office released a video Monday showing the Sept. 1 operation to recover the bodies of two Thai students whose rental car plunged into the Kings River in July.
The vehicle, a red 2016 Hyundai Sonata, careened off of Highway 180 and into a rapidly flowing river on July 26. The depth and swiftness of the current made removing the vehicle and the bodies of exchange students, Bhakapon Chairatnathrongporn and Thiwadee Saengsuriyarit, difficult.
It wasn’t until the river’s turbulent rapids subsided that the Fresno County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue Team along with the assistance of a California Highway Patrol helicopter were able to retrieve the bodies.
The drone video footage shows the challenge rescue crews faced working in the swift, chest-high water. Nearly a dozen search and rescue members are seen in the river or on the banks of the river. Members of the team used cables and a hoist to pull the mangled wreckage from the river and onto the riverbank. The bodies were removed from the car and airlifted out of the canyon by the CHP helicopter.
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Family members have since taken possession of the bodies and held memorial services.
Tony Botti, sheriff’s spokesman, said the operation took nine hours.