Friend of Harts says parents tried to isolate children

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

PORTLAND, Ore. (KATU) - A friend of the Hart family, who authorities believe intentionally drove off a California cliff, told KATU on Monday there were warning signs their family had issues.

The parents, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, along with three of their adopted children, were found dead from a crash in Mendocino County. Three of the children, Devonte, Hannah and Sierra, are missing, but investigators believe they were in the car at the time of the crash.

Christine Washington said she met the family in 2014 at a music festival. She said she would occasionally see the family at events in Portland.

Washington said she felt an immediate connection to the six children because she was adopted. She said she shared the same hometown of Dallas that three of the children were from.

"I told Jen, 'I wanted to be a part of their life. Forever,'" she said.

She said she wanted to be close with the kids and could be like a mentor for them.

"I wanted to let those kids know that I had been through the same traumatic situations that they were in, and I am still smiling and I'm still OK."

Sarah Hart, she said, told her she felt overwhelmed and impatient with the children at home. She said she tried to help and watch the kids but the parents declined the offer.

Looking back now, Washington believes the parents were intentionally trying to isolate the children and keep outsiders at a distance.

"They didn't have anyone else to go to," she said.

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