Body found amid search for SoCal family after SUV swept into river

Cheryl Sanders
April 14, 2018

Five people have been confirmed dead after the SUV carrying Jennifer Hart, her wife, Sarah, and and at least three children plunged from a 150-foot cliff in Northern California onto the oceanside rocks below last month.

Jennifer Hart's blood alcohol content was at.10 based on authorities' preliminary results, above the legal limit of.08.

Her wife, Sarah Hart, had a significant amount of the ingredient in Benadryl in her system, as did two of the children, CHP said.

The body was found as crews searched for the family along the Northern California river where it is believed they may have been swept away in heavy rains, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said at a Friday news conference. Mendocino County Search and Rescue divers are preparing to be deployed to the area of the crash site once ocean conditions improve.


A truck drives by the pullout where the SUV of Jennifer and Sarah Hart was recovered off the Pacific Coast Highway, near Westport, Calif., Wednesday, March 28, 2018. They later left the state and never registered in local school districts in OR and Washington OR notified authorities they planned to home-school the children.

On March 26, investigators recovered the bodies of the parents inside the vehicle and three children - Markis, 19; Jeremiah, 14; and Abigail, 14 - outside the auto.

No one in the vehicle, a GMC Yukon, was wearing a seatbelt, Captain Carpenter said on Friday.

The 31-metre drop killed the women, both 39, and their children Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14.


Last August, soon after the Harts moved into their rural home, neighbors Bruce and Dana DeKalb said a child rang their doorbell, seeking sanctuary from abuse. Their three other adopted children are missing, 16-year-old Hannah Hart, 12-year-old Sierra Hart and 15-year-old Devonte Hart, who is known for a viral photo in which he is hugging a police officer in November 2014.

The family lived in Woodland, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, and were reportedly on a road trip, though Child Protective Services had been trying to reach them for days.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has said he considered the crash probe a criminal investigation.


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