On March 26, Devonte Hart, his five siblings and his adoptive parents were reportedly in an SUV that went off a cliff in Northern California. His adoptive parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 39, and three of the children, Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14, have all been reported dead. Their three other adopted children are missing, 16-year-old Hannah Hart, 12-year-old Sierra Hart and 15-year-old Devonte, who is known for a viral photo in which he is hugging a police officer in November 2014, are missing. However, one body has been found, which authorities believe could be Hannah or Sierra, but are waiting for the autopsy report. The family lived in Woodland, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, and were reportedly on a road trip.
Police originally said they had “no reason” to believe the crash was intentional. Now, according to KGW8, Greg Baarts, acting assistant chief for California Highway Patrol’s northern division, they “do have reason to believe, however, that the crash was intentional.”
There have been several reports of abuse and now a 911 call has been released. Just hours before the SUV crashed into the Pacific Ocean on March 26, a rep from Child Protective Services called 911 about getting access to the Hart home.
There have been several reports of abuse and now a 911 call has been released. Just hours before the SUV crashed into the Pacific Ocean on March 26, a rep from Child Protective Services called 911 about getting access to the Hart home. “The mothers are Sarah and Jennifer Hart, and according to my intake, they have six children in the home,” the rep says. “I’ve been to the home Monday and Friday and knocked on the door just this morning, and I can get no response,” she continues. “Different cars have been moving in and out, I noticed, so I feel like someone is there.” When asked by the dispatcher why CPS was checking on the family, the rep replied, “Concerns that the children aren’t being fed.” Listen below:
Again, sadly, soon after that call, the Hart family’s SUV was found crashed into the Pacific Ocean.
CBS News reported the Harts were abusive parents with neighbors claiming Devonte came to their house and said his parents were punishing them by withholding food. The neighbors also claimed in May 2017, “one of the girls rang their doorbell at 1:30 a.m. She ‘was at our door in a blanket saying we needed to protect her,’ Bruce DeKalb said. ‘She said that they were abusing her.'” All of the children were homeschooled and removed from public in April 2011, a week after Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to physically abusing one of her daughters, according to The Oregonian.
Back in 2008, “An Alexandria police report obtained Tuesday also shows a different daughter told authorities in 2008 one of her mothers bruised her with a belt. Asked by police about the beating, Jennifer and Sarah Hart said the girl had fallen down the stairs days before, the report shows.”
The system clearly failed these beautiful children.
Below is the famous photo of Devonte Hart.
Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by this tragedy.