SUV Cliff Crash that Killed Family of Eight may have been ‘Intentional’

A car which careered off a cliff in California killing a family of eight may have been driven off the highway intentionally, according to police.

The Hart family died after their SUV crashed down on to rocks in the Pacific Ocean in northern California.

Police said they believe the car was stopped by the side of the road before accelerating to as fast as 90mph over the cliff.


Greg Baarts, Acting Assistant Chief of the California Highway Patrol northern division, said data from the SUV coupled with a lack of skid marks on the road showed the event was not an accident.

He said it was “pure acceleration all the way”.

The 100ft (31 metre) drop killed parents Jennifer Jean Hart and Sarah Margaret Hart, both 38, and their children Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14, and Abigail Hart, 14.

Three other siblings: Hannah Hart, 16, Devonte Hart, 15, and Sierra Hart, 12, have not been found.

Sgt. Bret Barnum and Devonte Hart in 2014. Pic: Johnny Nguyen

The family gained attention after Devonte Hart was photographed during a 2014 protest in Portland, Oregon, following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri.

Devonte, holding a “Free Hugs” sign, stood crying.

A Portland officer saw his sign and asked if he could have a hug, and the emotional teenager embraced him in a picture that was widely shared.

Officials searched the family home and did not find a suicide note.

The location where the SUV of Jennifer and Sarah Hart was recovered off the Pacific Coast Highway

The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services has said it was investigating the family for potential child neglect or abuse.