Fresno County authorities meet with Thai Consulate, family of Kings River crash victims to discuss recovery

Fresno County sheriff’s officials discussed recovery efforts Friday with the Royal Thai Consulate-General Los Angeles and the family of two exchange students whose bodies have remained inside a mangled vehicle that has been stuck in the middle of the Kings River for more than two weeks.

The meeting came a day after the Thai Consulate warned of protests unless the students’ bodies were pulled from the river soon. The family of the victims told the Associated Press that they would consider hiring a private company to recover the bodies.

“We outlined the challenges we’re facing and also showed them some images and video so they can get a better perspective” said Tony Botti, a spokesman for the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office. “It established a good one-on-one relationship.”

The bodies of the two students are believed to be in the crumpled vehicle that was first spotted at the bottom of the treacherous river gorge last month, not far from Convict Flat Campground in Hume. The rapid lies between two canyon faces more than 500 feet high.

Since the vehicle was located, Fresno County sheriff’s officials have been trying to determine the safest way of recovering the bodies inside.

In a Facebook post, the Thai Consulate explained Friday’s discussions with sheriff’s officials to its community, noting that the agencies involved were making the recovery efforts a top priority and would not allow any private agency or person to recover the bodies because such efforts could be fatal and illegal.

“The recovery must be very careful,” the Facebook post read. “The torrents and rapids are about 30 feet away from the point where the car is stuck and there are three more rapids in the same manner.”

Botti said authorities are unable to use a helicopter to pull the car out of the river in part because the structural integrity of the vehicle is unknown and also because the dangerous conditions that the canyon poses to…

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