The Latest: Authorities search home of family in cliff crash

WOODLAND, Wash. (AP) — The Latest on a family presumed dead after their SUV plummeted off a California highway (all times local):

4:15 p.m.

Authorities in Washington state are searching the home of a family of eight who are presumed dead after their SUV plunged off a California cliff.

Portland, Oregon, TV station KOIN reports that the Clark County sheriff’s office went to the home in Woodland, Washington, on Thursday in search of information such as phone and bank records.

It comes as authorities in California try to retrace the movements of the Hart family.

Jennifer and Sarah Hart and their six adopted children are believed to have been killed in the crash. Five bodies have been recovered, but three children are still missing.

The SUV was discovered Monday about 25 miles north of Mendocino, California. Child welfare authorities in Washington went to the Hart home on Friday after neighbors reported concerns about the children’s well-being.


1:32 p.m.

Experts say investigators should be able to determine how fast an SUV believed to be carrying a family of eight was traveling when it plunged off a cliff in California.

No one saw the 2003 GMC Yukon XL drive off a flat, dirt pullout overlooking the Pacific Ocean this week.

But Marcus Mazza, an engineer and reconstruction expert with Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Robson Forensic, said Thursday that the SUV was required to have a “black box” that records accident data.

Jennifer and Sarah Hart of Woodland, Washington, and their six children are presumed dead in the crash.

The family traveled to festivals and events, offering hugs. Some neighbors say they saw signs that caused them to worry about the children.


9:14 a.m.

A woman who died when her family plunged off a Northern California cliff in an SUV pleaded guilty to a domestic assault charge in 2011 after telling authorities “she let her anger get out of control” while spanking her 6-year-old adoptive daughter.

Sarah Hart’s plea deal in Douglas County, Minnesota, led to the dismissal of a malicious punishment of a child charge.

The California Highway Patrol says Sarah Hart, her wife and their six children likely all perished when their vehicle went off a cliff. Three children have not been found.

According to a 2010 criminal complaint the girl told a teacher at her elementary school. The teacher observed bruises on the girl and alerted authorities.

Sarah Hart told police she and her partner, Jennifer Hart, didn’t usually spank their children. Sarah Hart said she had done so to discipline the child.


11:07 p.m.

A family that gained attention for an emotional photograph of an African-American boy hugging a white police officer at a 2014 protest died when their SUV plummeted off a scenic California highway.

Authorities said Wednesday that they believe six children were in the vehicle with their parents, though three siblings haven’t been found.

The Hart Tribe, as they were known, took spontaneous road trips, and friends believe they may have been on one of those adventures when their SUV veered off Pacific Coast Highway onto rocks in the ocean.

Friends described the married couple Jennifer and Sarah Hart as loving parents who promoted social justice.

But neighbors say they saw signs that caused them to worry about how the homeschooled children were being cared for.