Body found near Hart family crash site
A body was found in the water Saturday, April 7 near the Hart family crash site in Westport, California.
According to a press release from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office, the body appeared to be that of an African-American female and was found at around 2 p.m.
In the release, Lieutenant Shannon Barney said that an age, identity and cause of death could not be determined, but MCSO was investigating the possibility the body could be one of the three children who have been missing and feared dead after an SUV carrying at least two adults and three children drove off a cliff March 26.
An autopsy was to be conducted Tuesday, but DNA identification could take several weeks according to Barney.
While parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 39, and three of their children — 19-year old Markis Hart, 14-year-old Jeremiah Hart and 14-year-old Abigail Hart — were found dead at the scene of the crash, three other children — 15-year-old Devonte Hart, 16-year-old Hannah Hart and 12-year-old Sierra Hart — were still considered missing headed into the weekend.
A large search effort that began April 4 was initially unsuccessful and suspended the following day as a storm approached. The body was found Saturday by a couple vacationing along the coast.
"It is not uncommon after a significant storm, such as the one passing through the north state currently, to bring items to the surface or wash onto the beach," Barney said. "The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office is monitoring the ocean conditions to see when further searches might be safely conducted. ... There were no other signs of the other missing Hart children."
MCSO said that further search efforts April 9 and 10 were unsuccessful.
"Searches of the Mendocino County coastline will continue with on-duty patrol deputies as calls for service allow," Captain Gregory L. Van Patten said in a press release. "Mendocino County Search & Rescue divers are preparing to be deployed to the area of the crash site once ocean conditions improve for safety reasons. It is anticipated that ocean conditions will not improve for several days."