HUME, Calif. - This has not been a typical recovery mission.
A red sedan careened off of a highway and plunged 500 feet into a ravine, landing on rocks in the middle of Kings River July 26.
Because of the rocks, water level and fast moving currents, officials have not been able to remove the car and the bodies of what officials believe to be two Thai foreign exchange students.
“I would like family members to know that recovering their loved ones is a top priority at my office right now,” Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims said in a statement. “The Fresno County Sheriff Search and Rescue team has a lot of experience and is currently working to develop a plan that is safest for them to effectively do their jobs. I realize this is a difficult situation and want you to know that our goal is to recover your family members in a respectful manner as soon as an opportunity presents itself. We appreciate your patience and understanding.”
Officials are working on a plan. A military helicopter was used to survey the area Thursday. The photos captured will be used to develop recovery approach. A date on when the car will be removed is not yet decided.
“Recovering the bodies is a top priority, but the safety of our personnel is also a top concern and it will dictate any efforts we make moving forward with the operation,” the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said.
The foreign exchange students, who have not been formally identified, are believed to be a man and woman enrolled at the University of South Florida. The Thai consulate in Los Angeles is in touch with the victim’s families, as well as officials working on recovery efforts.
The consulate has expressed frustration for how long the recovery has taken. They are planning a rally Aug. 14 if the bodies have not been recovered by then.
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