Sheriff says Hart family crash wasn't an accident: 'I'm calling it a crime'

Dozens of people searched for the missing Hart children on April 4, 2018. Photo courtesy Mendocino County Sheriff

MENDOCINO COUNTY, Calif. – The Mendocino County Sheriff says he does not believe the crash that killed five members of the Hart family was an accident.

In an interview with HLN, Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said, “I’m to the point where I’m no longer calling this an accident. I’m calling it a crime.”

Sunday, investigators said they believe the family drove off the California cliff intentionally.

Wednesday, the sheriff’s office conducted an extensive search along the coast and Pacific to locate the three missing Hart children. But, the 74 volunteers and 10 law enforcement personnel were unable to locate Devonte Hart, Hannah Hart and Sierra Hart.

Five other members of the Hart family were found dead at the scene of a crash. Investigators say it appears they drove their vehicle over a cliff and crashed onto rocks in the Pacific Ocean. Deputies found parents Jennifer and Sarah Hart and three of their adopted children - Markis, Abigail and Jeremiah - at the scene. They say they have no reason to believe the other three children were not inside the vehicle at the time of the crash.

Wednesday, search crews focused their efforts on the area between Noyo Harbor and MacKerricher State Park. They also combed the area south of that location.

Weather is preventing the search from continuing on the ocean over the next few days.

On Thursday, the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office issued a correction to a previous release that said Jennifer and Sarah Hart were wearing seat belts during the incident. The two parents were not wearing seat belts at the time of the crash.

RELATED | Friend of Harts says parents tried to isolate children

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