A social worker worried about the welfare of the Hart family called 911 in Washington state the same day the family's SUV plunged off a cliff in California. The Department of Social and Health Services employee told dispatchers in the March 26 call that she was requesting a welfare check after repeated failed attempts to locate Jennifer and Sarah Hart and their six adopted children, People reports. "I've been to the home Monday and Friday and knocked on the door just this morning, and I can get no response," the worker said. "Different cars have been moving in and out, I noticed, so I feel like someone is there." The worker said she was worried about the family because of "concerns the children aren't being fed," reports KPTV.
The couple and at least three of the children—Markis, 19; Jeremiah, 14; and Abigail, 14— died in what investigators believe was an intentional crash. Three other children—Devonte, 15; Hannah, 16; and Sierra, 12—are missing and presumed dead. The Harts were being investigated for alleged child abuse and neglect, which mystifies friends who knew them in the mid-2000s, when they lived in Minnesota, reports the Seattle Times. "They were passionate about trying to help," says Kayla Schmitz, who worked with the couple at Herberger's department store when they first got their foster-care license. "The people I know wouldn't starve their kids and lock them up." (An autopsy is being carried out on an unidentified body found near the crash site.)