Crash that Killed Family May Have Been Intentional

SUV that plunged off cliff killing family may have been intentional act

The family of eight whose SUV plummeted off a cliff in Northern California appears to have happened intentionally according to reports from Mendocino police on Sunday.

The Harts and at least three of their adopted children were killed after Jennifer Hart drove off a cliff near Highway 1 in the Westport area of Mendocino County on Monday, according to deputies. Three other children - 15-year-old Devonte, 16-year-old Hannah and 12-year-old Sierra - are missing.

He told NBC News that California authorities were "tirelessly searching for the missing children along the coastline", while authorities in California and Washington were "conducting interviews and attempting to establish a timeline and routes of travel in an effort to rule out any other possibilities". "This is all based on preliminary information", he added.

Data from the vehicle's air bag module and software indicated that the auto had stopped at the pull out and then accelerated off the road, said Greg Baarts, acting assistant chief of the California Highway Patrol's Northern Division.

"We have not made any findings in this investigation and we had no prior history with this family", the agency said.

"Pure acceleration all the way", he said.

There was no evidence to suggest the auto had been driving at an angle when it left the road, he said.

Fox affiliate KPTV in OR reported that the sport utility vehicle's speedometer was "pinned" at that speed, indicating that the vehicle remained in motion after it fell and just before it hit the rocks 100 feet below on the Pacific Coast Highway.

"Certainly, that does not mean the vehicle was going that fast", Robertson said. That alone can not be used to determine how fast the vehicle was going.




A search warrant affidavit was granted in Clark County in connection with this investigation for items including travel itinerary, bank records, cell phone records, credit card billing statements, bank receipts, notes, journals and possible suicide notes.

On Thursday, authorities in Washington state combed through the family's home for information.

Police have said conditions at the house indicated that any trip would have been temporary.

A neighbor Bruce Dekalb said, "I think that it's a little odd that three of them left the vehicle and three of them didn't".

The Department of Social and Health Services say they will classify the children who were killed "as potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect".

The family gained some level of fame when a photo taken during a 2014 Portland protest of Devonte Hart hugging a police officer with tears streaming down his face went viral. Then 12, the boy held a sign reading "free hugs", as he tearfully hugged a police officer.

The Washington Department of Social and Health Services said it tried unsuccessfully to contact the family on three occasions, first on March 23, three days before the crash, according to a statement. He said the Harts were a wholesome, loving family who overcame a lot of adversity.

Well before the wreck, Sarah Hart pleaded guilty in 2011 to a domestic assault charge in Douglas County, telling authorities "she let her anger get out of control" while spanking her 6-year-old adoptive daughter, court records show.

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