Published: Fri, March 30, 2018
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

Officials believe 6 kids were in SUV that plunged off cliff

Officials believe 6 kids were in SUV that plunged off cliff

Washington state child-protective services opened an investigation Friday and tried to make contact with the family three times but weren't able to reach them, said Norah West, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Social and Health Services.

The boy who made headlines when he was photographed hugging an officer during a 2014 protest against police brutality is missing after his family's SUV plunged 100 feet off a coastal highway in California, officials said Wednesday.

"We have every indication to believe that all six children were in there", Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allmon said, appealing for help retracing where the family had been before the vehicle was found on Monday.

Allman at the news conference said there was no evidence that the fall was intentional.

The bodies of Devonte's moms Jennifer and Sarah Hart and his siblings Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14, were discovered on Monday, March 26.

Online court records say Sarah Hart's plea in Douglas County, Minnesota, also led to the dismissal of a charge of malicious punishment of a child.

An officer asked if he could have a hug, and their emotional embrace was caught on camera and went viral.

The two women were still in the vehicle and their children's bodies were found out of the vehicle.

Hart, along with his siblings 16-year-old Hannah Hart and 12-year-old Sierra Hart, are now missing after their family?s vehicle fell from a cliff in Northern California near Mendocino.

While the cause of the crash remains under investigation, new details are emerging.

"There were no skid marks, there were no brake marks" at the turnout on the Pacific Coast Highway where the SUV went over, the sheriff said.

Officials in OR and Washington, where the family has lived, have not been able to find the missing children at their home in a small city outside Portland, Ore., OR with family members and friends.

At the Portland rally Hart stood crying out of sadness over the events in Ferguson.

Despite reports of turmoil in the family, Allman said law enforcement believes the tragedy was an accident. A search was underway for three children who were unaccounted for after their three siblings and parents bodies were found in the wreckage. Their parents also died in the crash. He also asked Devonte where he went to school (he is home-schooled), what he did this summer (he traveled around the US with his family), and what he likes to do (art).

"They stayed indoors most of the time, even in really nice weather", Groener said.

Jennifer Hart told the AP that after the grand jury decision not to charge Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, the family went downtown "with the intention of spreading love and kindness" by holding signs such as "You Matter" and "Free Hugs". A nearby photograph captured the interaction when the cops asked for a hug.

Devonte Hart was 11 years old when he held a sign that said "Free Hugs". He called Hart over and they talked briefly about the protest and other topics, like art, school and life.

Zippy Lomax, a Portland photographer who knew the family, told The Oregonian/ that the reaction to the photo overwhelmed the Harts, with negative attention focused on the multiracial family with lesbian parents.

"They kind of closed off for a while, honestly", Lomax told the newspaper.

She said the Harts frequently traveled to festivals and shows and that "Jen and Sarah were the kind of parents this world desperately needs".

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