Boy In Ferguson Photo Feared Dead After Family's SUV Drives Off Cliff

Devonte Hart's image went viral in 2014 after he was photographed hugging a police officer, tears streaming down his face, during a Black Lives Matter protest.

A teenage boy whose image went viral in 2014 during a Black Lives Matter protest is feared dead, along with his parents and siblings, after their vehicle apparently drove off a cliff in California this past week.

Devonte Hart, age 15, took part in a rally with his family in 2014 shortly after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown’s death led to many protests in that city, and sister marches across the country were similarly held, including in Portland, Oregon, where Hart’s family had attended.

Hart, who is black, had been holding up a sign that read “Free Hugs,” and when a police officer came over to ask for a hug, the two embraced, tears streaming down the boy’s face as he did so. The image went viral soon after, encapsulating the moment in American history.

The Hart family SUV was found at the bottom of a cliff on Monday near the Pacific Ocean on a California highway. They were apparently on their way home to Washington state, as authorities found their pets still home, indicating that the trip was intended to be a short one.

The two parents, Jennifer and Sarah, were found dead inside the wreckage, as were three of their six adopted children. Three children — Devonte and two of his sisters, Hannah and Sierra — were not found.

“We know that an entire family perished during this tragedy,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said on Wednesday.

Hopefully the three unfound children are still alive, although the odds are admittedly slim.

The reason for the accident is unknown at this time.

This tragedy has understandably broken the hearts of many people across the country. The ideals of the Hart family, and the good that they stood for, deserve to be emulated, ensuring that their cause toward creating a more just society will live on in the years ahead.

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