Eight people – two women and their six adopted children – were killed after their SUV plunged off a 100-foot cliff along a seaside highway in Mendocino County Monday, March 26. According to an Associated Press news report, this accident has flummoxed the authorities because they have been mystified by how it was caused. They say they have no reason or evidence to believe this was an intentional act.
At the same time, there were no skid marks and no sign that the brakes were applied at the highway pull-off area where the vehicle went over. The bodies of the two women, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 39, were recovered along with those of Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14. Hannah Hart, 16; Sierra Hart, 12; and Devonte were also believed to have been in the SUV, and authorities continued to search for their remains.
The case has thrown the spotlight on the Hart family. The married couple has been described as loving, inspiring parents who promoted social justice and exposed their adopted children to art, music and nature. The family participated in Bernie Sanders rallies and one of the children, Devonte Hart, drew national attention after he (a black youngster) was photographed in tears hugging a white police officer during a 2014 protest in Oregon over a police shooting of a black man in Ferguson Missouri.
The boy was holding a “Free Hugs” sign. Their neighbors in Woodland, Washington, called child services last week when Devonte, now 15, came over to their home asking for food. They were told that the Harts were punishing their children by withholding food. Officials are still investigating the crash and the mysterious circumstances surrounding it.
Our hearts go out to this family and everyone who loved them. While we may not know exactly what happened, we hope the vehicle, in this case, the SUV, has been preserved and is being examined by an expert for evidence of defects or malfunctions. As California car accident lawyers, we have seen a number of so-called “unexplained car accidents,” which can be traced back to an auto defect or a defective part. We hope officials solve the mystery in this case so family members of the Harts and their friends could get some type of peace and closure.