Authorities have identified the remains found after SUV plunged over a cliff

Odette Odendaal
Jan 11, 2019
12:49 A.M.

Remains that got found on a Northern California beach shortly after the crash in March last year finally got identified while the body Devonte remain missing.


Authorities said Wednesday that the body belonged to one of the six adopted children that were in the SUV when their mother intentionally drove off a cliff.


Due to the state of the remains, the Mendocino County sheriff’s department had trouble identifying them until the biological mother of 16-year-old Hannah Hart contacted the department from Mobile, Alabama in October 2018.

Investigators had urged for family members to come forward so that the remains could be identified, and the woman’s DNA was a match to those of the teen’s body they found.

Everyone involved in the crash had been found and identified, except for that of the 15-year-old Devonte Hart. However, the sheriff’s department believes that all six children had died in the crash.


Devonte received national attention after a photographer took a picture of him crying while hugging a white police officer during a 2014 protest in Portland.

The protest followed after a Missouri grand jury failed to indict a Ferguson police officer in connection with the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

The picture got snapped by a freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen on November 25, 2014, during the beginning of the downtown demonstration.


Officer Barnum pictured in the photo said that he saw Devonte holding up a sign that read, “Free Hugs,” and called him over to talk.

Devonte was in tears because national events made him sad. And after asking Devonte whether he can have “one of those”about the free hugs on his sign, Devonte gave him a long hug which Nguyen captured in his image.

According to the sheriff’s department, the 38-year-old Jennifer Hart was drunk when she intentionally drove the SUV off the cliff while all the children were in the vehicle.

The SUV plunged into the ocean just off California’s Highway 1, about 155 miles north of San Francisco.


Authorities have been unable to determine a motive for Jennifer’s tragic behavior, while toxicology reports showed that everyone in the vehicle had large amounts of a drug in their systems that caused drowsiness.

The crash happened mere days after an investigation got launched following allegations of child neglect.

The complaint got filed after a neighbor the Hart’s had in Woodland Washington laid a complaint at the state. According to the neighbor, the children were deprived of food as punishment.

Three days after social workers tried to follow up on the allegations on March 23, the SUV was found partially submerged in the ocean.


Information found on the black box of the recovered SUV showed that it plunged off the cliff at 90 mph without breaking, which led to the death of Jennifer and Sarah Hart, along with 3 of the eight children.

In 2011, Sarah got accused by neighbors of child abuse and was charged with domestic assault after she let her “anger get out of control” while spanking one of her daughters.

However, the question remains, where is Devonte? And what really happened the day the SUV plunged into the ocean?

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