More details have emerged in the SUV crash believed to have killed all the members of the Hart family. Devonte Hart, whose photo went viral hugging a police officer during a protest is one of the children believed to have died in the crash, though his body has not yet been found. Police now believe that the crash was intentional and more evidence has emerged to support that.
Authorities recently announced Jennifer Hart, the woman who authorities say drove her family to their deaths, was drunk during the incident. Her wife and children — including teenager Devonte Hart, whose “free hugs” photo went viral in the wake of Michael Brown’s death — had particularly large amounts of the drug diphenhydramine in their systems, an active ingredient in Benadryl.
Hart had an alcohol level of 0.102, more than twice the legal limit.
Police previously announced they believed Hart drove the car off of the cliff intentionally. None of the car’s occupants were wearing seatbelts.
Before the crash, the Hart family was being investigated for neglect and abuse. According to family’s neighbor Bruce DeKalb, 15-year-old Devonte Hart had begun asking him for food, saying his mothers were punishing him by withholding meals. DeKalb called Child Protective Services on March 23 and officials arrived at Jennifer Hart’s home, but she didn’t answer the door. By the next morning, the family and their car were gone. Child services attempted to reach the family again on March 26 and March 27, but didn’t make contact.
One of Sarah Hart’s friends called 911 requesting a welfare check after receiving a suspicious text from Sarah and being unable to reach her on March 26. The bodies of Jennifer and Sarah Hart were found along with their children Markis, Jeremiah, and Abigail on March 26. Their three remaining children — Devonte, Hannah, and Sierra — remain missing.
A sixth body was found last week but it has yet to be identified.
As first reported by the Oregonian, the children’s aunt wanted to adopt the kids, but was denied after allowing them to spend time with their biological mother, whose parental rights had been terminated.
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