Car crashes off cliff into Kings River, missing Thai students not confirmed victims

The river's strong current keeps rescue team from recovering vehicle

KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Calif. - Two college students are missing after a trip to Kings Canyon National Park. CHP discovered traces of a car accident by a steep cliff off Highway 180 last Wednesday. The vehicle is still in the river.

The owner of the Reedley Inn says two students checked into her motel and never came back. It's been more than a week and she says a man and woman arrived at the motel last Tuesday. They asked her how far away the national park was. Two days later the couple never checked out but their bags were still in the motel room.

It's a gift for tourists and a danger for rescue teams as the river rages on. High above the water, a windy road is where a horrifying car accident took place just last week. Now two people are missing.

The wreck happened off the 180. What's left behind? A completely mangled guard rail where the car crashed right through, falling at least 500 feet into the river. More than 40 miles away at the Reedley Inn, the owner says a man and woman checked in last Tuesday.

"They asked me about the Sequoia Park and the Kings Canyon National Park. 'How far is it,'" recalled the owner.

The owner says the guests were supposed to check out two days later but never did.

"I opened the door. All stuff in there and they didn't show up," said the owner.

So she waited, hoping the two would return.

"I couldn't sleep at night, me and my husband because they didn't come back," said the owner.

The owner says a friend of the couple called the motel, asking where they were. The friend told her the man and woman were college students from Thailand, studying in Florida. The owner's son reported the missing guests to Reedley Police.

Back at Kings River Gorge, the water roars. The rescue team has been checking water levels daily before they determine it's safe enough to recover the vehicle.

"That's very treacherous right now. So it's very dangerous for us to get in there," said Victor Taylor with CHP.

Meaning authorities still can't identify the victims of the car crash. The motel owner crosses her finger, hoping for a miracle.

"It's sad but you never know. Miracle, maybe. I hope we find them alive," said the owner.

The Thai Consulate was at the scene of the crash, working with authorities and have already reported two missing students on their Facebook page. The motel owner says the Consulate came to the Reedley Inn with the family of the victims on Friday.

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