Speedometer 'pinned' at 90 in California cliff plunge that killed adopted children

Devonte Hart in the iconic hug
Devonte Hart in the iconic hug
Author

03 April, 2018

Fox affiliate KPTV in the U.S. state of OR reported that the SUV's speedometer was "pinned" at that speed, indicating that the vehicle remained in motion after it fell and just before it hit the rocks 30 metres below on the Pacific Coast Highway.

A spokesman says the data shows the vehicle was stopped at a flat pull-off area before it sped off the steep rocky face.

Known as the Hart Tribe, the multiracial family of two married women - Sarah and Jennifer Hart - and six adopted children took spontaneous road trips to camp and hike and traveled to festivals and other events, offering hugs and promoting unity.

His adoptive sisters - 16-year-old Hannah Hart and 12-year-old Sierra Hart - were also missing after the family's vehicle plummeted off a cliff near Mendocino on March 26.

Officials still aren't sure when the crash took place.

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services confirmed that the case was still open in a statement on Wednesday, saying "the now-deceased children were identified as potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect". "The speedometer could have moved at impact or somehow was manipulated", said Greg Baarts, Acting Assistant Chief for the California Highway Patrol.

Three of the children are still missing. He said they were not being fed as punishment, a story that matched what one of his sisters told the couple earlier.

Another neighbor Priscilla Hansen said, "I think it's a frightful tragedy to hear and my thought is why adopt six kids and treat them like that".

Neighbors reported concern for the couple's children, including a belief that the parents may have been withholding food.

Despite rumors, Baarts said there were no suicide notes found at the Harts' residence in Washington state but confirmed a few items are now being examined by investigators.

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No suicide note was found at the scene of the crash, according to CHP.

The Hart family gained national attention when a photo of 15-year-old Devonte Hart went viral.

Members of the Hart family is pictured in 2014.

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After the Friday visit, Child Protective Services tried to visit the family twice more, on Monday and Tuesday, to no avail, according to the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

She said she had done so to discipline the child.

A search warrant was conducted at the family's home in Woodland, Wash., on Thursday, March 29.

Baarts said items were retrieved from the home during the search, including computers, credit cards and bank statements.

Family friend Max Ribner took issue with the notion it was something other than a awful accident.

According to court records, the family had troubles in the past when one of its two white mothers was charged with domestic assault against one of their six adopted black children. "They were always on some grand adventure, and the kids were living this life that was kind of like this dream".


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