California crash that killed Hart family may have been intentional, authorities say

The family's 2003 GMC SUV went off of a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway and fell 100 feet, landing upside down in a grizzly crash.

It is unclear when the crash occurred, but Baarts said the smashed vehicle was found by a passing motorist on Monday, March 26, "three days after social services authorities in Washington opened an investigation that was apparently prompted by a neighbor's complaint that the children were being deprived of food", according to the AP.

Their three other adopted children were believed to be in the auto, according to deputies, but they have not been located.

Now, the latest court documents in the case question whether the crash was accidental.

They also determined that the speedometer had quit at the 90-mph mark, but that could have been a result of the impact.

"While it has been documented that the vehicle was traveling at 90 miles per hour upon impact, it is not conclusive whatsoever", Greg Baarts, the acting assistant chief for the Northern Division of the CHP, told the station.

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Police said that preliminary information suggested the vehicle may have been intentionally driven straight off the edge of the cliff. "This is all based on preliminary information".

Devonte, holding a "Free Hugs" sign, stood crying. Three children were confirmed to have died in the crash.

Known as the Hart Tribe, the multiracial family of two married women - Sarah and Jennifer Hart - and six adopted children took spontaneous road trips to camp and hike and traveled to festivals and other events, offering hugs and promoting unity. "We can't tell you definitively what crime was committed".

While Dekalb believes her call to CPS may have precipitated the tragic incident, law enforcement officials have yet to make that determination.

A state caseworker went to the Harts' house in Woodland, Washington, on March 23 but didn't find anyone home, officials said.

The Hart family. From left, Hannah Hart, Abigail Hart, Sierra Hart, Jeremiah Hart, Jennifer Hart, Devonte Hart, Markis Hart and Sarah Hart.

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The boy, who like his siblings was being home-schooled, had asked that the couple leave food in a box by a fence for him, the couple told CBS News. But by Saturday, the family's SUV was gone from the driveway, Bruce DeKalb said.

On Thursday, authorities in Washington state combed through the family's home for information.

Search warrants have been issued and the Clark County Sheriff's Office have taken computers, credit cards and bank statements in order to get a better understanding of what happened leading up to the tragedy.

Investigators are continuing their search Sunday and are in touch with family and friends, Baarts said. "They were always on some grand adventure, and the kids were living this life that was kind of like this dream".

The agency had no prior history with the family, said Norah West, a spokeswoman with the Department of Social and Health Services.

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  • Ryan Wade