D.C.

Sarath Potharaju identified as body in Tidal Basin

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The body that was found in the Tidal Basin Thursday has been identified as that of Sarath Potharaju, a tourist who disappeared Easter Sunday.

It's believed Potharaju was speaking on his cell phone when he fell into the Tidal Basin. His family said they do not think he knew how to swim.

"(He is) such a nice guy. Didn't harm anybody," his uncle, Srinivas Kolluri, said.

U.S. Park Police officials initially got a report of a body in the water at the West Basin Drive near the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial at around 1 a.m.  A short time later, D.C. police said that they recovered the body of an adult male.

The family of Potharaju, 35, came to the area Thursday to determine if the body is that of the 35-year-old software consultant.

Potharaju, a software engineer, is from India and has been living in Chicago for the past seven years. He was last seen on Easter touring with family members. The husband and father of two was separated from his cousins around 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

There are no railings near the area where his body was found. Authorities aren't sure how he ended up there but he's believed to have been in the water for more than a week.

The grisly discovery comes at the height of the cherry blossom season and is disturbing to visitors.

"I'm really shocked, because if it is such a popular destination and a crowded place, how could that happen?" asks Kolluri.

His family returned to the last place anyone saw Potoraju, who was strolling with relatives along the Tidal Basin March 31st. He left them to go to a nearby bathroom.

“He is our only nephew we have only one sister the one son we have only one sister,” Kolluri, says. “We don't know what happened what led to this.”

Potoraju's uncles came to D.C. to identify the body. Now they are wondering what happened.

There was no evidence of foul play and his relatives believe it was a freak accident.

“He might be talking on cell phone on cell phone so I don't know exactly,” says uncle Anand Kolluru.

As they inspected the spot where they believe Potoraju plunged into the cold water, his uncles wondered if more could be done to prevent future accidents. They asked if there should be a barricade of fence put up to prevent people from falling in to the Tidal Basin.

Now, preparations are underway to return Potoraju's body back to India.

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