Cops: Crash That Killed Family Appears Intentional

Hart family's vehicle accelerated over cliff edge
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2018 4:32 AM CDT
Updated Apr 2, 2018 6:42 AM CDT
Cops Believe Crash That Killed Family Was Intentional
This March 20, 2016, photo shows the Hart family of Woodland, Wash., at a Bernie Sanders rally in Vancouver, Wash.   (Tristan Fortsch/KATU News via AP)

The crash that wiped out a large family traveling along California's Pacific Coast Highway last week may have been murder-suicide, not an accident. NBC News reports that police say they've uncovered disturbing signs that the vehicle carrying married couple Jennifer and Sarah Hart and their six adopted children was driven over a cliff intentionally. Capt. Greg Baarts with the California Highway Patrol said Sunday night that information from the 2003 GMC Yukon's software shows that it was stopped at a gravel pullout around 70 feet from the cliff's edge before it accelerated over the edge and plunged around 100 feet, the AP reports. He said the SUV's speedometer was pinned at 90mph when it went over the cliff. Baarts said no suicide notes were found in a search of the family's home.

The family had driven more than 500 miles south from their Washington state home. Baarts told reporters that the electronic data and the fact that there were no skid marks or other signs that the driver tried to brake has led investigators to believe the crash was deliberate. The bodies of the parents, both age 38, and Markis, 19; Jeremiah, 14; and Abigail, 14, were found at the site where the SUV hit ocean rocks. Still missing are Hannah, 16; Devonte, 15; and Sierra, 12. Authorities believe they weren't wearing seat belts and may have been washed out to sea. Baarts said police could "be looking at a variety of felony crimes" to investigate, but at this point, they "can't tell you definitively what crime was committed," reports the Washington Post. (The Harts were being investigated for alleged child abuse and neglect.)

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