A family of eight who died when their car went over a cliff in Northern California were visited by Child Protective Services just a few days before the incident, according to the sheriff’s office.
Jennifer and Sarah Hart died in the crash. Adopted children Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; Abigail Hart, 14; Hannah Hart, 16; Devonte Hart, 15; and Sierra Hart, 12; also perished, according to Fox News.
"There were no skid marks." Investigators trying to determine why an SUV carrying family of 8 tumbled off a cliff on a scenic California highway. https://t.co/7T0xPqfdXh
— AP West Region (@APWestRegion) March 29, 2018
Their vehicle plunged off a cliff along the Pacific Coast Highway about 150 miles north of San Francisco.
On Friday, CPS workers were called to the Hart family home in Woodland, Washington, located outside of Portland, Oregon Live reported. The children were “identified as potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect,” Oregon Live reported, and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services had opened up an investigation.
— John de Leon (@DeLeon_Times) March 29, 2018
“Something just didn’t seem right. They were very isolated in the home,” Bill Groener, who had lived next to the family in West Linn, Oregon, told Oregon Live.
Groener told the website that he felt “guilty he never called [children’s] services.”
“[She] was at our door in a blanket saying we needed to protect her,” another neighbor, Bruce DeKalb, said. “She said that they were abusing her. It haunted my wife since that day.” He said one of the girls rang their doorbell at 1:30 a.m., Fox reported.
— Toronto Sun (@TheTorontoSun) March 29, 2018
Sarah Hart pleaded guilty on a domestic assault charge in 2011 in Minnesota after her daughter said that her “mom hit me” when a teacher saw bruises.
“I am a better human in every possible way for knowing these children. They have been my greatest teachers,” Jennifer Hart wrote on social media about her family, according to Oregon Live. “Contrary to the common notion that we can’t choose our family, we absolutely can. We choose by loving – and that’s worth celebrating every damn day.”
Authorities said that there is no reason to suspect foul play.
“We have no evidence and no reason to believe that this was an intentional act,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Wednesday, March 28.