Final Days of Family Wiped Out in Crash Being Pieced Together

Jennifer Hart spotted on surveillance video day before apparently intentional crash
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 4, 2018 2:59 PM CDT
This March 25, 2018, Safeway surveillance photo provided by the California Highway Patrol shows Jennifer Hart, right, at a Safeway store in Fort Bragg, Calif.   (Courtesy of California Highway Patrol via AP)

(Newser) – A timeline of the final days of the Washington family killed in an apparently intentional car crash in California is coming together. Jennifer Hart, 38, was caught on surveillance footage at a Safeway store in Fort Bragg, Calif., around 8am on March 25, the day before the family's SUV plunged off a cliff about 15 miles north of the area, Fox News reports. The bodies of Jennifer Hart (who was driving the SUV) as well as her wife, Sarah, and three of their six adopted children have since been found; authorities are still searching for the couple's three other children. Jennifer Hart was purchasing bananas and other groceries during the Safeway trip; it's not clear where the rest of the family was, NBC News reports. The children ranged in age from 12 to 19; their parents were under investigation for alleged abuse or neglect at the time of the crash.

Investigators have also been interviewing neighbors, searching the family's Washington home, and looking into cellphone pings. So far, they know the family was south of Portland by 8:15am March 24, and then drove south along the coast until, by 8pm, they were in the Fort Bragg area. They were there a little more than 24 hours, then headed north up the coast. Their GMC Yukon went off the cliff, falling 70 feet to an embankment below, on March 26; a passerby reported it to police around 3:30pm. Authorities say it appeared to have accelerated over the edge and that no skid marks were found near where it went over. "As of this date it is still unclear if the missing children were inside the vehicle during the incident," the CHP said in a news release, but the missing children are tentatively presumed dead. The local sheriff tells KOIN there is "every indication" they were in the car when it crashed. (A former friend of the couple has come forward to speak out about the alleged abuse.)

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