CBSN

Hart family crash: New skeletal remains found where SUV plunged off Calif. cliff

MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. -- Skeletal remains of a human foot have been discovered inside a tennis shoe recovered in the Pacific Ocean, CBS San Francisco reports. The discovery is near where a Washington state family died when their SUV was intentionally driven off a Highway 1 cliff, authorities said.

The Mendocino County Coroner's Office said a sheriff's deputy was dispatched to the area of North Highway 1 and Hardy Creek in Westport at approximately 7:15 p.m. Wednesday after a local resident found a pair of jean pants with a shoe entangled inside one of the pant legs on the ocean beach near the mouth of Hardy Creek.

The jeans were a girl's size 10 regular and the shoe appeared to be a 3.5 U.S. big kid size and/or 5.5 women's U.S. size.

Upon inspection, it was determined skeletal remains of what appeared to be a human foot was inside of the shoe and those remains were sent to the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services Richmond DNA laboratory to see if they belonged to 16-year-old Hannah Hart.

Hannah remains missing along with her 15-year-old brother Devonte following the fatal crash March 26.

Police have said they have found remains of Jennifer Jean Hart, 38; Sarah Margaret Hart, 38; Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; Abigail Hart, 14 and Ciera Hart, 12.

The tennis shoe was discovered approximately 1 mile north of the crash site and search teams returned Thursday to see if they could locate any other evidence linked to the disappearance.

Toxicology results have shown that Jennifer Hart, who was driving the SUV, had a .102 BAC (blood alcohol content) while Sarah Hart and two of the children had a positive findings in their blood for Diphenhydramine, an active ingredient in Benadryl.

The crash came as child protection personnel in Washington state were trying to visit the family after a neighbor says he reported a child's complaint of mistreatment.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has described the crash as "a crime." The vehicle appears to have left a highway for a dirt turnout, then accelerated on that turnout for about 70 feet until it went off the cliff, authorities said, citing data from the vehicle's software and air bag module.

No skid marks were seen in the area, officials said.

"I'm to the point where I no longer am calling this an accident," Allman said at the time. 

There were no witnesses to help guide police on what happened. The SUV was discovered by a passerby who saw the mangled wreckage at the foot of the cliff.

SUV Off Cliff

This March 20, 2016 photo shows Hart family of Woodland, Wash., at a Bernie Sanders rally in Vancouver, Wash. Authorities in Northern California say they believe all six children from a family were in a vehicle that plunged off a coastal cliff. 

Tristan Fortsch/KATU News via AP