Friend of family killed defends parents that 'world desperately needs'

From Left: Hannah, Abigail, Sierra, Jeremiah, Jennifer, Devonte, Markis, and Sarah Hart at a Bernie Sanders rally in Vancouver on March 20, 2016 - Photo by Tristan Fortsch, KATU News

The picture-perfect family is now the face of a tragedy.

One of the more recent family photos was taken at a Bernie Sanders rally in 2016, where Zippy Lomax saw them last.

“I was in awe of them. I think that I speak for a lot of people. I was inspired by them. They gave me hope,” said Lomax.

She snapped dozens of photos of the family about five years ago at the Beloved Festival in Oregon where she met them. Through Lomax's lens, the Harts were a model family.

“There was no question as to how completely loved and adored those children were,” said Lomax. “We all have lost something because I don't think there are a lot of examples of families like that, and of kids like that who were so selfless.”

All six children were adopted by Jennifer, 39, and Sarah Hart, 39. Friends in the community know them as the Hart Tribe. They recently moved to Woodland, Washington, where neighbors say there were possible signs of abuse and neglect.

“None of that computes. I'll tell you, none of that lines up with the people that we all knew,” said Lomax. “Jen and Sarah, I think, were the parents that this world desperately needs.”

Washington state's Department of Child Protective services confirmed its investigation into alleged abuse or neglect.

Lomax says the couple were invested in providing their kids with a stable and grounded life.

The couple died Monday with three of their children, 19-year-old Markis Hart, 14-year-old Jeremiah Hart and 14-year-old Abigail Hart. Deputies in California say they drove their car off a cliff about a hundred feet into the rocks below.

“It was very confusing scene. There were no skid marks, no brake marks,” said Sherriff Tom Allman from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office.

There currently are no signs of the three missing children, 12-year-old Sierra Hart, 16-year-old Hannah Hart and 15-year-old Devonte Hart.

Devonte Hart was seen in a famous photo, hugging a police officer three years ago at a Portland protest about the events in Ferguson, Missouri.

“I have no idea what those children would have gone on to do,” said Lomax. “I'm really sad at this point is all we can do is imagine.”

The Mendocino County Sheriff's Office says there's every indication that all six children were in the car at the time of the crash.

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