Boy in This Viral Photo Now Feared Dead

Devonte Hart, 2 siblings remain missing after crash in California
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2018 8:08 AM CDT
Boy in This Viral Photo Now Feared Dead
California Highway Patrol officers and deputy sheriffs from Mendocino and Alameda counties gather after a search for three missing children on Wednesday.   (Alvin Jornada/The Press Democrat via AP)

The teary-eyed boy who hugged a police officer during a heated Ferguson-related rally in Portland in 2014, resulting in a viral photo, is now feared dead after his family's SUV plunged off a California cliff. Police believe Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both aged 38 or 39, were traveling with their six adopted children when their 2003 GMC Yukon drove off the Pacific Coast Highway on Monday. The pair were found dead inside the vehicle, which fell 100 feet onto the rocky shore, per USA Today. Markis, 19; Jeremiah, 14; and Abigail, 14, who weren't wearing seat belts, "came out" of the vehicle and also died, officials say, per OregonLive. Authorities believe 15-year-old Devonte Hart and two other siblings, 16-year-old Hannah and 12-year-old Sierra, were also in the SUV at the time of the crash, but an air and ocean search has found no sign of them.

While the search continues, authorities are trying to determine what led to the crash. Police say there are no brake marks but also no evidence to suggest an intentional act. But there were problematic signs, say a couple who lived next to the family in Woodland, Wash. They say they reported the family to authorities after Devonte repeatedly asked them for food, claiming his parents withheld it as punishment. The state's Department of Social and Health Services tried three times to contact the family between Friday and Tuesday but was unsuccessful, reports OregonLive; it notes Sarah Hart was convicted of misdemeanor domestic assault in 2011 after one of her daughters turned up at school with bruises. The family also didn't answer the door when authorities visited the home Friday, police say. Neighbors say the family's vehicle was gone the next day. (Read more missing person stories.)

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