(Reuters) - A body recovered from surf on Saturday may be that of a girl from an SUV that plummeted last month off a California coastal cliff and killed a family of eight people aboard, in what authorities believe was an intentional crash, a sheriff’s office said.
Five bodies have already been recovered from the March 26 crash including driver Jennifer Hart, 38, Sarah Hart, 38, and three of their children. Their GMC Yukon plunged about 100 feet (30 meters) onto seashore rocks.
The Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said an autopsy would be performed next week to determine the girl’s age and identity, adding authorities are looking into whether the body pulled from the sea on Saturday is one of the missing children.
The couple had adopted six children and the crash occurred three days after child welfare services opened an investigation into allegations of child abuse and neglect at their home in Woodland, Washington.
The missing children include 15-year-old Devonte Hart, an African-American teen who gained notoriety in 2014 after being photographed hugging a white police officer at a protest after the fatal police shooting of a young black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri.
County Sheriff Tom Allman has said he considered the crash a crime, based on evidence from the site, a scenic viewpoint some 180 miles (290 kms) north of San Francisco.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz