WESTPORT, Calif. —
A body found near the Hart family crash site just over a week ago has been identified as 12-year-old Ciera Hart, one of three missing children of the Hart family, according to the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
On April 7, what appeared to be an African American female was recovered in the Pacific Ocean surf in the area of Juan Creek and Highway 1 in Westport by search crews, the MCSO said.
Due to the condition of the body found, the MCSO Coroner’s Division enlisted the assistance of the California Department of Justice Bureau of Forensic Services Richmond DNA laboratory in identifying the body.
On Tuesday, April 17 the Coroner’s Division was notified that the Richmond DNA laboratory identified the body from DNA analysis as being Ciera Hart.
Through an ongoing examination of legal documents the Coroner’s Division was able to determine her legal first name to be spelled “Ciera” and not Sierra as previously released. The Coroner’s Division was also able to determine Ciera’s legal age as being 12 years-old at the time of the incident as opposed to 15 years-old which was also previously released.
The autopsy results including blood alcohol and toxicology analysis for Ciera are pending at this time.
The Hart family’s SUV crashed off a rocky shoreline cliff on March 26. The bodies of the married couple, Sarah and Jennifer Hart, and three of their six adopted children were found in and near the vehicle, according to officials. Three of their children have been missing since the crash and authorities believe they were in the car at the time of the incident. The two women, both 38, were found dead inside the SUV, while three of their children – Markis Hart, 19, Jeremiah Hart, 14, and Abigail Hart, 14 – were discovered outside the vehicle. Searchers were looking for Hannah Hart, 16; Sierra Hart, 12; and Devonte Hart, 15.
The CHP found five members of the Hart family, who most recently lived in Woodland, Washington, dead inside their SUV that crashed off a cliff in late March. The Mendocino County sheriff said he does not believe the crash was an accident. Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said, “I’m to the point where I’m no longer calling this an accident. I’m calling it a crime.”