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New evidence points to tragic SUV crash as intentional

"At this time, three children are still missing and could be in the ocean," said a California Highway Patrol officer.
Photo credit:
Alameda County Sheriff's Office

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.

Authorities investigating the scene were concerned after they found no evidence of skid or brake marks. They also weighed in on data gathered from the GMC Yukon's on-board computer.

They found that the vehicle had stopped then suddenly accelerated off Highway 101 sending the car into the ocean 70-feet below reports NBC

"Pure acceleration all the way," said CHP spokesman Cal Robertson.

They also determined that the speedometer had quit at the 90-mph mark, but that could have been a result of the impact.

"Certainly, that does not mean the vehicle was going that fast," Robertson said.

The investigation continues and a full inspection of the SUV is in process said Acting Assistant CHP Chief Greg Baarts to reporters. But, the “complete lack of ... physical evidence" such as skid marks is notable.

Taken from the accident were the bodies of parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart, 38, and their three children  Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14.

The three other children Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12 are presumed to have been in the car, but have not been recovered.

"Three children are still missing and could be in the ocean," Baarts said. "We are trying to determine a timeline, path of travel, and if there were any stops."

The family gained the media’s attention in 2014 after a photograph of their son Devonte went viral. It showed him in tears hugging a police officer at a protest rally shortly after the killing of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Investigators say the search for Devonte and his siblings continues and they are "tirelessly searching for the missing children along the coastline" while research continues for answers by "conducting interviews and attempting to establish a timeline and routes of travel in an effort to rule out any other possibilities."

The family had gone through some troubles in the past. One of the mothers, Sara, had been charged with a misdemeanor offense of domestic assault in 2011. A current investigation was in process by the Washington Department of Social and Health Services after reports from neighbors said the children might have been neglected.

They claim Devonte would show up at their house for food in the early morning hours because his mothers would withhold it as punishment.

The most recent call to Child Protective Services happened on March 23 just prior to the Hart's vacation and the fatal crash.  

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

Search warrants have been issued and the Clark County Sheriff's Office have taken computers, credit cards and bank statements in order to get a better understanding of what happened leading up to the tragedy.

Investigators say no suicide note was found at the family’s home.