MENDOCINO, Calif. — Officials confirmed Tuesday that a body pulled from the Pacific Ocean last week was one of six children from a family killed when their SUV plunged over a California cliff.
The coroner’s office said DNA analysis confirmed the body was that of 12-year-old Ciera Hart. The office had previously spelled the girl’s first name as Sierra.
Investigators determined that parent Jennifer Hart was driving drunk and they suspect the crash was intentional. They are still trying to determine a motive.
Toxicology results showed Jennifer Hart’s wife and several children had large amounts of a drug in their systems that can cause drowsiness.
Toxicology results are still pending for Ciera Hart. She was the fourth of the six children to be recovered.
The family lived in Washington state, just north of Portland, Oregon.
The crash happened just days after authorities in Washington opened an investigation amid allegations the children were being neglected.
A neighbor of the Harts in Woodland, Washington, had filed a complaint, saying the children were apparently being deprived of food as punishment. No one answered when social workers checking on the report knocked on the family’s door on March 24.
The family’s SUV was found on rocks in the ocean at the bottom of the cliff two days later.
The bodies of the adults and four children have been recovered. Two other Hart children remain missing and the FBI has placed them on its missing persons list.
Nonetheless, investigators said they have no evidence indicating the two remaining children are still alive and officials continue to search the ocean and nearby beaches.