Possible sighting of mother before deadly SUV crash

Possible sighting of mother before deadly SUV crash
The Associated Press

MENDOCINO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities are investigating whether a surveillance video from Fort Bragg, California, shows a woman the day before her family’s sport utility vehicle was found at the bottom of a cliff at a scenic viewpoint along the Pacific Coast.

Mendocino County Sheriff Lt. Shannon Barney told The Oregonian/OregonLive Tuesday the woman in the video looks like Jennifer Hart but that the footage is “very grainy.”

Sarah and Jennifer Hart, of Woodland, Washington, were found dead at the crash scene March 26 along with three of their children. That was just days after authorities in Washington began investigating whether their six adoptive children were being neglected.

Three other children remain missing.

On Sunday, authorities announced that data from the vehicle’s software suggested the crash was deliberate. The SUV had stopped at a pull-off area then sped straight off the cliff.

One of the missing children is 15-year-old Devonte Hart, a black youngster who drew national attention after he was photographed in tears while hugging a white police officer during a 2014 protest.

Police have said that social service authorities in Oregon contacted the West Linn Police Department about the family in 2013 while they were living in the area. The questions were referred to the Oregon Department of Human Services, which cited privacy laws in refusing to say whether the agency was involved.

Sarah Hart pleaded guilty in 2011 to a domestic assault charge in Minnesota over what she said was a spanking given to one of her children. Last month, concerned neighbors in Woodland, Washington, contacted child welfare authorities, saying the children may have been going hungry.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that following the resolution of the charge in Minnesota the Harts took their children out of public school. They were then home schooled in Minnesota, Oregon and Washington.