The young boy who was captured hugging a white police officer during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2014 is missing after his family’s car drove off a cliff in California.
Devonte Hart, 15, became famous after his “free hugs” sign during a protest caught a police officer’s eye in Portland, Oregon. A nearby photograph captured the interaction when the cops asked for a hug. The image was taken at a protest sparked by the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Hart is now said to be missing alongside his sisters Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12. The crash already left their parents and three their siblings dead, according to the NY Daily News.
“We know that an entire family perished during this tragedy,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Wednesday. But because three members of the six adopted children are missing, including Devonte, police are hoping they were not in the vehicle.
Officials say they do not know what caused the crash, which left no skid marks, BBC reports. Sheriff Allman also said that the scene was unusual because the vehicle had traveled across a 75-foot area that separated the road from the cliff edge before the 100-foot drop.
The family was recently visited by Child Protective Services in their town of Woodland, Washington, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Social and Health Services told the Associated Press. Neighbors say the family left for their trip soon after the visit, CBS News reports.
“They portrayed this happy little family,” neighbor Dana Dekalb said “yet their daughter is telling us please, please, please, begging us not to go back they're abusing her.”
Police are hoping that more information on what happened will become available soon.