Nearly 10 months after a mother of six drunkenly drove her entire family off a California cliff, one of the two missing children has been confirmed dead—dashing hopes that she and her brother could have survived the crash that killed their adoptive mothers and their four siblings.
Authorities on Wednesday confirmed they identified the partial remains of 16-year-old Hannah Hart, from Washington state. On May 9, 2018, a passerby spotted a partial foot inside a shoe that was attached to a pair of jeans near the crash site, but lab results were inconclusive. A DNA test recently obtained from Hannah’s biological mother helped authorities determine the remains were, in fact, Hannah’s, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said.
The bodies of Jennifer Hart and her wife Sarah, both 38, along with four of their six adopted children were found following a high-profile crash on March 26, 2018. Authorities said Jennifer Hart intentionally sped off a 100-ft. cliff in northern California, killing her wife and at least five of their six adopted children.
Hannah Hart and her 15-year-old brother Devonte Hart were not among the bodies found at the crash site.
The FBI had initially believed Hannah and Devonte may have survived and were possibly traveling together. But the fate of missing Devonte is now likely more grim. Local authorities fear he is also dead.
“That is our most likely scenario,” Lt. Shannon Barney told TIME on Wednesday. “The family was all together. We have no reasonable indications that they were not all together.”
In March, the family’s SUV was discovered upside-down on the rocky shoreline. The sheriff’s office had said there were no skid marks near the cliff where the vehicle went off, implying that Jennifer Hart did not attempt to hit the brakes. Her wife, Sarah Hart, and two of the children had a large amount of an active ingredient found in the allergy medicine Benadryl in their systems, authorities said. None of the passengers inside were wearing seat belts.
In the aftermath of the fatal plunge, three of the six Hart children were unaccounted for, including Hannah, Devonte and 12-year-old Ciera Hart. About two weeks later, Ciera’s body was found floating in the surf near the site of the crash.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office continues to look for Devonte. The teen made headlines in 2014 when he was captured in a moving and viral photograph tearfully hugging a white police officer during a protest in Portland, Ore. after the controversial police shooting of Michael Brown. The youngster told The Oregonian at the time that he wanted to spread positivity. “I was trying to show peace, that there was a different way to handle it,” he said.
The motive for last year’s deadly crash is still unclear. Authorities later learned that Jennifer and Sarah Hart had faced repeated child abuse allegations since 2008.
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