Officials believe six kids were in SUV that plunged off cliff

Posted March 30, 2018

The California Highway Patrol said law enforcement officials in OR and Washington have been unable to locate the missing children of Jennifer and Sarah Hart at the family home in suburban Portland OR with family members and friends.

"We have every indication to believe that all six children were in there", Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said about the deadly crash. Their parents also died Monday.

The sheriff said the crash scene was unusual because the Yukon had traveled some 75 feet (23 meters ) along a dirt pullout before plummeting off the cliff and no skid marks or brake marks were found.

Officers were called at about 3.40pm after a passerby spotted the SUV on the rocks below, but investigators have been unable to determine exactly what time the crash happened.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Sheriff Allman conceded that many questions remain: When did the "accident", as he called it, occur?

The vehicle was spotted around 3:38 p.m. Monday by others in the scenic spot just south of Juan Creek in Westport, a rugged and remote area of the California coastline, according to California Highway Patrol Sgt. Erich Paarsh.

A sports utility vehicle that hurtled off a roadside cliff along the Northern California coastline earlier this week was likely carrying all eight members of a Washington state family, police said on Wednesday.

The Harts lived in Woodland, Washington, a small city outside Portland, Oregon, and had a recent visit from Child Protective Services, Clark County sheriff's Sgt. Brent Waddell told The Associated Press. The Pinal County Sheriff's Office did not immediately disclose what evidence was found.

California Highway Patrol noted that the family may have left for a temporary trip as there were many family belongings still in the home, as well as the pets.

Sarah Hart had pleaded guilty to a domestic assault charge in Minnesota in 2011. Her plea led to the dismissal of a charge of malicious punishment of a child, according to court records.

Family that plunged off cliff had MN ties
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The 100ft (31 metre) drop killed the parents, both 39, and their children Markis Hart, 19, Jeremiah Hart, 14 and Abigail Hart, 14.

But rescue teams are continuing to search for Hannah Hart, 16, Devonte Hart, 15, and Sierra Hart, 12, who they believe were also in the vehicle.

Investigators said they were married and previously lived in West Linn. He also asked Devonte where he went to school (he is home-schooled), what he did this summer (he traveled around the USA with his family), and what he likes to do (art). "They stayed indoors most of the time, even in really nice weather", Groener told AP. The family did not eat sugar, grew their own vegetables and went on camping trips.

"There was enough positive there to kind of counteract the feeling that something maybe wasn't quite right", Groener said.

But neighbours said they saw signs that caused them to worry about how the homeschooled children were being cared for.

Devonte Hart became nationally known a few years ago after taking a "Free Hugs" sign to one of the Ferguson protests in Portland.

Devonte Hart, who was seen with a "Free Hugs" sign at a 2014 protest, is killed along with the rest of his family in California.

Zippy Lomax, a Portland photographer who knew the Harts, told the Oregonian/ that the reaction to the 2014 photo overwhelmed them, with negative attention focused on the multiracial family with lesbian parents.

"They kind of closed off for a while, honestly", Lomax told the newspaper.

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