Skeletal remains found near Hart family crash site
Investigators are in the process of identifying skeletal remains found about a mile north of the site where at least six members of a former West Linn family were killed in a crash this past March, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday.
In a press release, MCSO Captain Gregory Van Patten said a local resident was walking on a beach near North Highway 1 and Hardy Creek in Westport, California Wednesday night and found the remains inside a shoe that was entangled in a pair of jeans. A deputy was dispatched to the scene and found that the jeans were a girls size 10 while the shoe was either a 3.5 US "big kid size" or a 5.5 women's size.
The California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services will identify the skeletal remains using DNA analysis, Van Patten said. A search and rescue group was deployed Thursday to the area where the remains were found, and was expected to conduct a search during low tide.
"An assessment of the ocean and terrain will also be conducted for the planning of a future search operation," Van Patten said.
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 after their SUV drove off a cliff near the California town of Westport March 26. The body of another girl, 12-year-old Ciera Hart, was later found in the ocean; 15-year-old Devonte Hart and 16-year-old Hannah Hart have remained missing since then, but are feared dead.
Toxicology analysis showed that the driver, Jennifer Hart, was intoxicated at the time of the crash. On Thursday, MCSO also announced that three of the four children who died tested positive for diphenhydramine, an active ingredient in Benadryl.
Authorities believe Hart drove off the cliff intentionally.