California Highway Patrol believes the crash that left at least five members of the Hart family dead on the California coast may have been intentional, KGW News reports.
“While it has been documented that the car was traveling at 90 mph upon impact, it is not conclusive whatsoever,” Greg Baarts, the acting assistant chief for the Northern Division of the CHP, told the station.
“We do have reason to believe, however, that the crash was intentional,” he added. “This is all based on preliminary information.”
Related story: Who were Sarah and Jennifer Hart?
California Highway Patrol did not return messages seeking additional information Sunday.
Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 38, were found dead in their overturned SUV at the bottom of a cliff below a pullout on Highway 1 on March 26. Three of their six children — Markis, 19; Abigail, 14; and Jeremiah, 14 — were also found dead at the site.
Devonte, 15; Hannah, 16; and Sierra, 12, are still missing, though authorities believe they were in the SUV as well.
The Harts six children were all adopted from southeast Texas.
The family gained some level of fame when a photo taken during a 2014 Portland protest of Devonte Hart hugging a police officer with tears streaming down his face went viral.
But the family’s public appearance may not have matched what was happening in their home.
Court records show that in April of 2011, while living in Minnesota, Sarah Hart plead guilty to abusing Abigail Hart and was sentenced to a year of probation for misdemeanor domestic assault.
And earlier this month, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services opened a Child Protective Services investigation which identified the Hart children as “potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect.”
While it has previously been reported that Jennifer Hart was discovered in the driver’s seat, Baarts told NBC News that CHP has not determined which woman was driving at the time of the incident.
A search warrant looking for records that may explain the crash and why the family drove to California was conducted earlier this week on the family’s home.
— Lizzy Acker
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