LOS ANGELES — A search team was dispatched to the rocky coast of Northern California on Thursday after a beach-goer discovered what turned out to be the skeletal remains of a human foot just a mile north from the crash of an SUV carrying the eight-member Hart family, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.
The bodies or remains of six members of the family, including a couple and four of their six adopted children, were found after their vehicle plunged off a cliff near Highway 1 in Mendocino County. Two of the Hart children, Hannah, 16, and Devonte, 15, are still missing.
Wednesday evening's discovery near the mouth of Hardy Creek in Westport, California, included a pair of girl's size 10 jeans with a shoe "entangled inside," Sheriff's Capt. Gregory L. Van Patten said in a statement.. The shoe, which matched the size of a small woman's foot, included the skeletal remains, he said.
That evidence was forwarded to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services to determine if DNA could be matched to the case, the captain said.
Authorities believe Jennifer Hart was drunk when she pulled off the coastal highway and, they've said, purposefully drove the GMC Yukon her family was in off a cliff. Investigators later said her blood-alcohol content was 0.102 percent, about 25 percent higher than the state's legal drunk-driving definition of 0.08 percent.
Wife Sarah Hart and three of the dead children had an active ingredient in Benadryl in their systems, sheriff's officials stated. The couple was not wearing seat belts, according to the California Highway Patrol.
The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office has identified the couple's deceased adopted children as Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; Abigail Hart, 14; and Ciera Hart, 12.
Child welfare authorities in the Hart's hometown of Woodland, Washington, tried to reach the family just five hours before the crash. One social worker told a 911 dispatcher that day there were "concerns that the children aren't being fed."