April 24, 2018

Crash That Killed Family of Eight May Have Been Intentional

03 April 2018, 01:59 | Darrell Baldwin

Hart family's deadly crash may have been intentional

Court docs: Speedometer in Woodland family's car 'pinned' at 90 mph in deadly California crash

The wreckage of the SUV containing five members of the Hart family was discovered March 26 by a passing motorist off a Pacific Coast Highway near Westport, California.

A spokesman says the data shows the vehicle was stopped at a flat pull-off area before it sped off the steep rocky face.

The household had previously been visited by Child Protective Services, and neighbors claimed to have called the agency again to report on the family on March 23, before the Harts left on the trip that resulted in the fatal incident.

The wrecked GMC Yukon was discovered last Monday, only three days after child welfare authorities in Washington state opened an investigation into allegations the children were being neglected, social and health authorities said.

Now, authorities have some of those answers as they're starting to piece together what exactly happened and why it did.

But days before the wreck was discovered, neighbours called Washington state child-welfare authorities to say one of the youngsters had been coming to their house nearly daily asking for something to eat and complaining that his parents were withholding food as punishment.

A search warrant affidavit was granted in Clark County in connection with this investigation for items including travel itinerary, bank records, cell phone records, credit card billing statements, bank receipts, notes, journals and possible suicide notes.

Neighbors in Woodland told FOX 12 this week they contacted Child Protective Services when one of the children, 15-year-old Devonte Hart, came to their home begging for food for himself and his siblings.

The woman pleaded guilty, saying a spanking had gotten "out of control".

The court documents revealed a teacher noticed bruises on the child's back and stomach after the child said her mom had hit her.

"We do have reason to believe, however, that the crash was intentional", he added.

Sarah Hart was convicted of misdemeanour domestic assault of Abigail in 2011 in Minnesota. In the iconic image taken at a Black Lives Matter protest in 2014, the teary-eyed teen is seen holding a "free hugs" sign while hugging a local police officer.

Two weeks ago, Bruce and Dana DeKalb, next-door neighbors of the Harts in Woodland, Wash., called state Child Protective Services because Devonte had been coming over to their house nearly every day for a week, asking for food. He said his parents would withhold food as punishment. Authorities said the family left OR to escape intense scrutiny that began in 2014, when Devonte Hart was photographed sobbing in the arms of a white police officer in Portland, where people had gathered to support protests in Ferguson, Mo.

"There have been red flags", he said, but did not elaborate.

Friends of the Harts had a different view of the couple, describing them to CNN affiliate KOIN as loving parents who gave the kids everything they had and radiated positivity. So were at least three of their six adopted children, Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14 and Abigail, 14, police said.

The Department of Social and Health Services say they will classify the children who were killed "as potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect".

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