Boy in viral 2014 protest photo among 8 family members dead in California cliff crash

A boy captured in a 2014 photo tearfully embracing a Portland, Ore. police officer at a protest is among the eight family members -- including six children -- who were killed Wednesday when their SUV plunged off a cliff along the Northern California coast.

Devonte Hart, 15, his five siblings and adoptive parents were pronounced dead after the vehicle plummeted 100 feet off an ocean overlook on the Pacific Coast Highway, about 150 miles north of San Francisco, police said. The vehicle was found Monday.

FILE - In this Nov. 25, 2014, file photo provided by Johnny Nguyen, Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum, left, and Devonte Hart, 12, hug at a rally in Portland, Ore., where people had gathered in support of the protests in Ferguson, Mo. Authorities have said two women and three children were killed Monday, March 26, 2018, when their SUV fell from a cliff along Pacific Coast Highway in Mendocino County. Hart is one of the three other children still missing after the vehicle fell off a cliff. He had gained fame when this picture of him hugging the white police officer during the protest went viral. (Johnny Huu Nguyen via AP, File)

Devonte Hart, 12, was photographed at a rally in Portland, Ore. in November 2015.  (AP)

"We have every indication to believe that all six children were in there," Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said about the deadly crash. "We know that an entire family vanished and perished during this tragedy."

The bodies of Devonte, Hannah Hart, 16, and Sierra Hart, 12, have not been located. Markis Hart, 19, Jeremiah Hart, 14 and Abigail Hart, 14, were killed.

The children’s parents, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 39, were pronounced dead.

Devonte gained national attention after a rally on Nov. 25, 2014 protesting police violence in Portland. Devonte had a “Free Hugs” sign, and a Portland police officer asked if he could hug the boy, who was 12 at the time. The emotional embrace, with tears visibly streaming down Devonte's face, went viral and was called "the hug shared around the world." 

This photo taken March 20, 2016, shows Devonte Hart at then Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visiting Hudson's Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash. Hart is one of three children who are missing after their siblings and parents were killed when their SUV plunged off a California cliff. Hart had gained fame when a picture of him hugging a white police officer during a protest went viral. (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian via AP)

Devonte Hart looks on as then-Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders visits Hudson's Bay High School in Vancouver, Wash.  (Stephanie Yao Long/The Oregonian via AP)


At the time, Jennifer Hart wrote on social media: "My son has a heart of gold, compassion beyond anything I've ever experienced, yet struggles with living fearlessly when it comes to the police...He wonders if someday when he no longer wears a 'Free Hugs' sign around his neck, when he's a full-grown black male, if his life will be in danger for simply being."

Despite the outpouring of support for the “beautiful” photograph, it also received negative attention because of the multiracial family with lesbian parents.

It’s unclear why the vehicle went off an ocean overlook. California Highway Patrol, along with a specialized team of accident investigators, are determining the cause of the crash. The family lived in Woodland, Wash., and appeared to be taking a planned short trip when the crash happened.

Pacific Coast Highway crash

Police are still trying to determine what caused the vehicle to plunge off the cliff.  (AP)

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam