New details are emerging about a family whose car tragically plunged off a cliff in California, killing everyone inside.
According to police, Sarah and Jennifer Hart were driving along a coastal strip of highway in Northern California when their car went off an escarpment, dropping 100 feet to the ground. The couple’s six adopted children — 19-year-old Markis, 16-year-old Hannah, 15-year-old Devonte, 14-year-old Jeremiah, 14-year-old Abigal, and 12-year-old Sierra — were inside the vehicle at the time of the crash.
While Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman initially told reporters he did not have any evidence the incident was a deliberate act, investigators have yet to figure out what happened.
“I could tell you it was a very confusing scene, because there are no skid marks,” Allman said.
The Hart family caught the media’s attention in 2014 after a photo of Devonte hugging a police officer during Black Lives Matter protest went viral. Though the Harts were apparently very concerned about social justice, neighbors say Sarah and Jennifer Hart mistreated their children.
After the tragic accident, a couple who lived next door to the Harts came forward to explain why they called Child Protective Services just days before the accident.
“They portrayed this happy little family and yet their daughter is telling us please, please, please, begging us not to go back they’re abusing her and then Devonte coming over here and telling us that he’s being starved to death,” Dana Dekalb, who called Child Protective Services, said.
In 2011, Sarah Hart plead guilty in Minnesota to domestic assault after a teacher noticed bruises on her then-6-year-old daughter. Sarah Hart allegedly told police she “let her anger get out of control.”
Though police are still investigating the shocking incident, Dekalb believes her call to CPS may have set Sarah and Jennifer Hart off.
“I was trying to help them and protect them,” she said. “And this is the result.”