The victims of the fatal SUV plunge from #Highway1 have been identified by the #Mendocino County coroner as Jennifer Jean Hart, 38; Sarah Margaret Hart, 38; Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14 years; and Abigail Hart. 3 other children are missing. https://t.co/KMDzGq1hnT pic.twitter.com/uzN2rbVc1y
— KPIX 5 (@CBSSF) March 28, 2018
The search continues for 15-year-old Devonte Hart and his siblings, 16-year-old Hannah Hart and 12-year-old Sierra Hart, officials from the California Highway Patrol and the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said in a joint press conference on Wednesday, March 28, ABC reported.
Five members of Hart’s family, including adoptive parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, are confirmed dead after the SUV they were in went off a cliff near Mendocino in northern California on Monday, March 26.
The bodies of the two women were still in the vehicle, KGW8 News reported, and the bodies of the children were found outside.
A puzzling aspect of the case, authorities said, was the lack of brake or skid marks before the vehicle plummeted 75 feet into the Pacific Ocean, something police called “confusing.”
None of the victims of the crash had their seatbelts on, the authorities revealed, and when crews arrived the car engine was cold, reported ABC.
Devonte Hart became known when a photo of him hugging a police officer during the Ferguson protests in Portland on Nov. 25, 2014 went viral.
#BREAKING: Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office confirms 15-year-old Devonte Hart #MISSING after California crash that killed family of five. Read more: https://t.co/rPJKbd0MTQ pic.twitter.com/KRm6ob0ylS
— KATU News (@KATUNews) March 28, 2018
Hart was 12 at the time and carried a sign at the demonstration with the words “free hugs” on it, and the police officer in the photo reportedly walked up to the boy and asked if he could “get one of those.”
According to CNN, Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum approached Devonte and extended his hand. Barnum reportedly said in a later interview he approached Devonte “not as a police officer but just a human being” when he saw him crying.
Freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen was there to capture the moment.