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SUV plunge off cliff may have been intentional, California police say

SUV plunge off cliff may have been intentional, California police say

All six of Jennifer and Sarah Hart's adopted children are black; the married adoptive mothers are white.

Police are still searching for three missing children who they believe were in the vehicle.

Officials still aren't sure when the crash took place.

Greg Baarts, Acting Assistant Chief of the California Highway Patrol northern division, said data from the SUV coupled with a lack of skid marks on the road showed the event was not an accident.

"Preliminary investigation indicates to us that this incident might have been an intentional act and not the result of a traffic collision", Captain Baarts said.

"Pure acceleration all the way", said CHP spokesman Cal Robertson.

Investigators said there was no evidence the vehicle collided with the embankment as it "traversed towards the tidal zone below".

Authorities now say the 100-foot plunge that killed the Hart family - two women and their six adopted children - likely was intentional.

A neighbor Bruce Dekalb said, "I think that it's a little odd that three of them left the vehicle and three of them didn't".

"Certainly, that does not mean the vehicle was going that fast", Robertson said Sunday night.




Baarts said that "in this vehicle the speedometer is electronically controlled", which could have caused an electrical charge to give that reading, or it could have been unintentionally manipulated during the recovery efforts.

Authorities believe at least one felony was committed but Captain Van Patten declined to specify.

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

Police have said conditions at the house indicated that any trip would have been temporary.

Friends also said that the couple tried to keep their children insulated from death threats and hateful emails prompted by Devonte's viral picture.

Meanwhile, those who knew the Harts described them as inspiring and devoted parents who had been unfairly subjected to criticisms and assumptions about their motives for adopting the children.

Devonte, a young black boy, was photographed in 2014 crying in the arms of a white police officer during a protest in OR over police brutality in Ferguson, Missouri. He was holding a sign that read "Free hugs".

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

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services released a statement Wednesday confirming a case was opened regarding the family last Friday, as "the now-deceased children were identified as potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect". "They were always on some grand adventure, and the kids were living this life that was kind of like this dream".

"Jen and Sarah really were the kind of parents that I think the world desperately needs", friend Zippy Lomax told KOIN.

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