CHP: Investigators believe crash that killed Washington family was intentional

Hart Family. (Contributed Photo)

The crash off a California coastal cliff that killed five members of a Woodland, Wash. family and left three children missing may have been intentional, California Highway Patrol said Sunday night.

Five members of the Hart family – parents Jen and Sarah and their three adopted children, Markis, Abigail and Jeremiah – were found deceased at the crash scene.

The search for the couple’s three other children named Devonte, Sierra and Hannah shifted to a recovery effort over the weekend.

In a press conference Sunday night, California Highway Patrol officials said they have data showing of the family’s GMC Yukon was stopped, then accelerated straight off the cliff.

"Preliminary investigation indicates to us that this incident might have been an intentional act and not the result of a traffic collision," said Cpt. Greg Baarts with the California Highway Patrol.

That information from the vehicle's on-board computer indicated that the last brake application was in a pullout about 70 feet away from where the SUV went off the cliff.


CHP tells KATU News that the vehicle’s speedometer was pinned at 90 mph when it was found. Officials stressed that it does not mean the car was going that speed when it left the road, and there are several factors that could cause it to read that.

At this time, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office said it's possible a felony was committed in this case.

Officials say that information was included in court documents filed to obtain a search warrant for the family’s Woodland home, as required under California law.

The investigation is ongoing, and officials said it could take several more weeks.

Investigators had air support from CHP in their search for the three missing children.

They're also looking as far south as Sonoma County, as they believe ocean currents may have pushed debris.

READ MORE: Boy who went viral in demonstration pic now missing after parents, siblings die in crash


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