A sixth body has been found in near the site in California where a couple and their six adopted children plunged off a cliff in their van last month.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s office said in a statement that the body on African-American female was found in the surf on Saturday near where the Hart family’s van was found on March 26.
A couple spotted the body floating in the surf on Saturday, and another bystander pulled it onto the beach and called the local fire department, who alerted the sheriff’s office.
The bodies of the two parents, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, and three of their children were found in the van, but three other children remain still missing, including 15-year-old Devonte Hart, whose photo hugging a white police officer during an anti-police violence protest went viral in 2014. Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 15, have also not been found.
Authorities have not been able to positively identify the body found on Saturday, but said the sheriff’s office is “investigating the possibility that the body may be one of the two missing Hart girls.”
An autopsy will be conducted on Tuesday, but authorities warned identifying the body will likely be done through DNA analysis which can take several weeks.
Last week investigators said the crash may have been “an intentional act”, noting that information from the car’s software and a lack of brake or skid marks suggests that the van stopped at a dirt lookout and then appears to have been driven directly off the cliff.
“It was pure acceleration … until it hit the bottom of the cliff,” said Greg Baarts with the California Highway Patrol Northern Division.
The sheriff’s office said on Saturday that they are monitoring conditions to see if further searches including divers can be conducted.
“There were no other signs of the other missing Hart children,” their statement said.