Biological mother of three Hart children just learned of deadly cliff plunge

The biological mom of three of the "Hart Tribe" children, who were likely killed when the SUV they were in plunged off a California cliff last month, only learned about the tragedy this week.

The mother of Devonte, 15, Sierra, 12, and Jeremiah 14, was taking the news “hard,” her husband told KOIN 6 on Thursday. Neither the mother or her husband were immediately identified.

"The way they went about moving the kids from here was wrong -- they never should have been moved away from Texas," the husband said.

FILE - This March 20, 2016, file photo shows Hart family of Woodland, Wash., at a Bernie Sanders rally in Vancouver, Wash. The SUV carrying the Hart family accelerated straight off a scenic California cliff and authorities said the deadly wreck may have been intentional.(Tristan Fortsch/KATU News via AP, File)

The Hart family of Woodland, Wash., is seen at a Bernie Sanders rally in Vancouver, Wash., March 20, 2016.  (AP)

The couple was only told of the children’s deaths Wednesday, according to the station.


Priscilla Celestine, the children’s aunt, heard about their deaths last week from a lawyer who had tried to help her fight for custody of the kids, according to The Oregonian.

Celestine attempted to adopt Devonte and three of his siblings four months before Sarah Hart – one of the mothers who adopted the children – was investigated for possible child abuse, The Oregonian reported.

devonte hart

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

Celestine failed in her attempt, however, because she violated an order that prohibited the children’s biological mother from seeing them.

“They got it all backwards," she told the newspaper. "You have people here, loved ones, to take them in. Instead you take them away."

Celestine didn’t have a criminal record and raised a daughter of her own. She gained custody of the kids in 2006 after protective services took custody away from the children's biological mother, who was a drug user, The Oregonian reported.

Celestine lost custody after she asked the biological mother to come to her Houston apartment to make the kids dinner. When a social worker showed up at the house unannounced and found the mother with the kids, the children were removed from the home immediately, the newspaper reported.


Jennifer and Sarah Hart adopted three of the children to add to the three kids they had previously adopted in Texas. Celestine told the newspaper the couple had no interest in taking in the oldest sibling, Dontay. She said Dontay, 21, is in prison for theft and doesn’t know about the crash.

"They got it all backwards. You have people here, loved ones, to take them in. Instead you take them away."

- Priscilla Celestine

California authorities said Jennifer and Sarah Hart, along with Jeremiah, were found dead at the bottom of a cliff just off the Pacific Coast Highway, about 150 miles north of San Francisco. Markis Hart, 19, and Abigail Hart, 14, were also found at the scene.

Devonte, Sierra and Hannah Hart, 16, are presumed dead but their bodies remain missing.

Authorities have said evidence suggested the fatal crash was deliberate. They said the SUV had stopped at a coastal highway overlook before speeding straight off the cliff into the rocky ocean.

Fox News’ Katherine Lam and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ryan Gaydos is an editor for Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @RyanGaydos.