In March, a married lesbian couple, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, and their six adopted children were presumed dead after their SUV went over a cliff into the ocean in Mendocino County, California.
In a press conference on Friday, April 13, California Highway Patrol Capt. Bruce Carpenter said Jennifer Hart, who was behind the wheel, “a blood alcohol level of .102 at the time of the crash.” The legal limit for driving in California is 0.08.
— Ashley Korslien (@AshleyKorslien) March 20, 2016
According to the Associated Press, Carpenter also added that Sarah Hart and two of the children in the vehicle had “a significant amount” of an ingredient found in Benadryl in their system.
Jennifer Jean Hart and Sarah Margaret Hart, both 38, and three of their children, Abigail, 14, Jeremiah, 14, and Markis, 19, were found dead in the car, while authorities believe the couple’s other children, Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12,—who are still missing—were also in the SUV at the time of the crash.
Evidence unearthed since the incident have California officials believing that the crash was intentional.
“We know that an entire family vanished and perished during this tragedy,” said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman.
“There were no skid marks. There were no break marks,” explained Allman. “There was no indication of why this vehicle traversed approximately over 75 feet off a dirt pullout and went into the Pacific Ocean.”
The victims of the fatal SUV plunge from #Highway1 have been identified by the #Mendocino County coroner as Jennifer Jean Hart, 38; Sarah Margaret Hart, 38; Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14 years; and Abigail Hart. 3 other children are missing. https://t.co/KMDzGq1hnT pic.twitter.com/uzN2rbVc1y
— KPIX 5 (@KPIXtv) March 28, 2018
Since the accident questions are being raised about the children’s home life.
KGW8, a local news station in Portland, spoke with the Harts’ neighbors, Bruce and Dana DeKalb, who said that one of the daughters came over to their house last year saying she was being abused.
Then earlier this year, Devonte showed up at the DeKalbs’ house asking for something to eat. He said his moms were “punishing them by withholding food.”
The DeKalbs eventually called Child Protective Services last Friday, March 23. The agency tried to speak with the Harts, but the family disappeared.
“The next morning, when we saw that the vehicle was gone, and then Sunday morning, when it still wasn’t there…” said Bruce DeKalb.
“We knew there was something weird, because they never go anywhere,” Dana added.
— Art Dalvik (@ArtDalvik) April 14, 2018
The Oregonian obtained 911 records revealed that hours after Child Protective Services came by, Sarah Hart sent a text message to her friend, Cheryl Hart (no relation), in the middle of the night, saying she “was so sick she might have to go to the hospital.”
“They were really radiant, warm, adventurous inspiring people,” said family friend Zippy Lomax. “They were always on some grand adventure, and the kids were living this life that was kind of like this dream.”
Allman told Time last week that “there are more reasons to believe that this was intentional than there are to believe that this was an accident.”