SUV that fell into river belonged to missing family, officials determine

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The Harts and three of their children were found dead after the auto plunged into the Pacific Ocean on March 26 Two more are missing and another body has been found but not identified.

A woman was drunk when she drove her large family off a Northern California cliff last month and her wife and several children had large amounts of a drug in their systems that can cause drowsiness, authorities said Friday.

Investigators began to examine the possibility that the disappearance might be linked to a report that the highway patrol received on April 6 of a vehicle plummeting into the Eel River from US 101, a north-south highway that runs through Washington State, Oregon and California. On Thursday, deputies said they had recovered debris and personal items along the river belonging to the family. "They were able to locate numerous items that appeared to have come from a vehicle body and interior", the Garberville office of the California Highway Patrol said. The items found from the river have identified positive by the family members.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their six adopted children were believed to be in the family's SUV when it plunged off a cliff in Mendocino County, more than 160 miles (250 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

"I have informed the family that at 10:20 this morning the Hunboldt County Sheriff's office boat team recovered a deceased juvenile approximately 7 miles south of the incident", said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.

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They were expected at a family member's home in San Jose on April 6.

"Some of these items were consistent with a Honda vehicle".

The Eel River on the day the vehicle was lost. A powerful storm late last week dropped 2 to 5 inches of rain in the region. Allman says DNA analysis from biological family members will be used to determine her identity.

Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 39, and three of their adopted children, Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14, have all been reported dead. A body of a Black female was found in the ocean and not far from the crash site, which authorities believe is Hannah or Sierra, but are awaiting the results of an autopsy.

Five bodies were found March 26 near Mendocino and a body was pulled out of the surf last weekend but its identity was not immediately identified.