The boy seen in a viral photo hugging a police officer at a protest is presumed to be dead after his family’s car drove off a cliff. Three of his five siblings and his two adoptive mothers are confirmed dead, multiple outlets report.
On Monday, authorities in California found the family’s car in the Pacific Ocean after it plunged off a 100-foot cliff 500 miles away from their Washington home.
Both parents, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, were found the overturned SUV along with three of their kids. Their three other children were not found but are feared dead, according to the New York Times.
Fifteen-year-old Devonte Hart, who made national news when he hugged a White police officer in Portland, Ore. in 2014 during a protest over the lack of indictment of the police officer who killed Mike Brown in Ferguson, Mo., is one of the missing children.
#BREAKING: Mendocino County Sheriff's Office confirms 15-year-old Devonte Hart #MISSING after California crash that killed family of five. Read more: https://t.co/rPJKbd0MTQ pic.twitter.com/KRm6ob0ylS
— KATU News (@KATUNews) March 28, 2018
“We have every indication to believe that all six children were in there, however only three bodies have been recovered,” Sheriff Tom Allman of Mendocino County told the Times. “We have no evidence and no reason to believe this was an intentional act. Certainly people are wondering what caused this.”
There were no skid marks on the road where the tragedy occurred, according to law enforcement.
Neighbors told Oregon’s KGW8 that Devonte used to visit their home frequently because he was not being fed.
“One of the children came over and started asking for food,” said Bruce Dekalb. “It went on for a period of time until we kind of determined that he was probably reaching out. And we determined that we should call child protective services.”
Washington State Child Protective Services tried to contact the Hart family on Friday, but they weren’t home, The New York Times reports.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for the state’s Department of Social and Health Services confirmed that an inquiry was opened because of “allegations of abuse or neglect in the home.”
Neighbors of Devonte Hart's family called authorities after the kids asked them for food. pic.twitter.com/MjWWECBzSA
— The Oregonian (@Oregonian) March 29, 2018
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.