Home Scandal and Gossip Mendocino County cliff crash: Was it murder suicide?

Mendocino County cliff crash: Was it murder suicide?

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Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart
Pictured Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart Mendocino County cliff crash
Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart
Pictured Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart and their six children, who are all believed to have died in the Mendocino County cliff crash. Image via social media.

Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart family crash: Was it murder suicide? What led to a family of eight known for their activism and claims of child abuse plunging 100 feet to their deaths along the Mendocino County cliffs?

Tragedy has struck and taken the lives of a family of eight traveling through Mendocino County, California on Monday, March 26, 2018, when they were discovered to have driven off a cliff.  

Killed were two women and three children, with local authorities presuming three other missing children to also have died in what many believe to have been the result of a planned murder suicide.

Reported the ukiahdailyjournal, ‘The adult women, identified as Sarah and Jennifer Hart of Woodland, Wash, were found in the 2003 GMC Yukon, while three of their children were found outside of the vehicle.’

‘Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman believes that all six children were inside the vehicle when it went off the cliff, likely killing the entire family’.

Police know that the SUV carrying the Hart family went off a Mendocino County ocean cliff and landed 100 feet below, on its roof, at the water’s edge. What police don’t know is when, how or why the accident occurred.

Of note, the family was described as mixed, multi-racial.

Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart were a married couple, who had adopted six children and were living as a family in Woodland, Washington. The mothers were reported as the same age, being either 38 or 39.  The children are: Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; Abigail Hart, and missing but presumed dead, Hannah Hart, 16; Devonte Hart, 15; Sierra Hart, 12.  

The Harts were known for embarking on many spontaneous road trips, with AP reporting the family unit involved with social justice causes along with attending a diversity of activist events, including many Bernie Sanders campaign rallies. 

Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart
Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart Mendocino County cliff crash

Devonte Hart being hugged by a white police officer: 

They were affectionately called, The Hart tribe, with AP reporting the Harts were ‘a free-spirited family of two women and their six adopted children who raised their own food, took spontaneous road trips and traveled to festivals and other events, offering free hugs and promoting unity’. 

It is from their involvement in activism that the public would already know about them. A viral photo was circulating around the internet, during the time of the 2014 Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri. A photo from the protests featured one of the children, Devonte Hart (aged 12 at the time), hugging a ‘white’ police officer.  

Told Johnny Nguyen, the photographer who then captured the image via KOIN-TV, ‘From a photographer standpoint, you look at the scene. It’s powerful. A white American cop hugging a black American boy’.

Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart Mendocino County cliff crash: tracing back the steps.

The sighting of the wrecked SUV was called in by a passerby on the Pacific Coast highway (Route 1) at 3:40 p.m, an indeterminate amount of time after the accident occurred. 

To date, no other witnesses have come forward, who may have been there at the desolate stretch of highway. Investigators were cited as saying they were unable to say what caused the accident, until they complete a thorough investigation, including forensics tests of the vehicle’s black box.  

There are many unknowns at this point. What moved the vehicle? Was it by human will, mechanical error, or other force, causing it to plunge off of a steep 100-foot cliff to drop below onto the rocky coastline of the Pacific Ocean? What seems to be strange, is the fact that there were no skid marks on the area prior to the crash, denoting that brakes were not applied. 

The fatal accident can be traced back in time to the whereabouts of the family at their residence in Woodland, Washington on Friday, March 23. They are also reported as being from Linn, Oregon, which could be where their identifications were registered. 

Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart child abuse claims:

Clark County, Washington had recently opened a child protection case regarding the Harts. This was instigated by their brand new neighbors, Bruce and Dana DeKalb. The Dekalb’s have reported that they were concerned about the Hart children. One of whom, apparently came to their residence, asking for food. 

Media is apt to be playing with speculation at this point, as to the motivation behind the road trip that the Hart’s were taking. It is to be found repeatedly that the Hart’s were fleeing the Child Protection investigation. It does seem to be a possible cause. Possible also is that they could not get along with their neighbors.

Reported the nypost, ‘Officials say they tried unsuccessfully to reach the family three times to investigate — but the neighbors say the family fled when a CPS worker showed up at their door Friday.’

‘The next morning when we saw that the vehicle was gone, and then Sunday morning when it still wasn’t there, we figured something was off,’ Bruce DeKalb told KGW.

Much is being made of the past criminal record of Sarah Hart, who took the rap for domestic assault of one of the children in 2011. This was in the state of Minnesota, it was seven years ago. It was settled for a plea bargain and no time was served, in lieu of one year’s probation. That punishment was apparently accomplished and the individual could be assumed as rehabilitated. Yet the suspicion of recidivism is much-touted in this media speculation.

Dana DeKalb was quoted by cbsnews as saying Devonte told her that Jennifer and Sarah weren’t feeding the children and were ‘punishing them by withholding food’. 

Bill Groener, a previous neighbor said the Harts didn’t eat sugar and grew their own vegetables. 

Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart
Pictured Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart and the ‘Hart tribe’.

Friends and family come out to support Sarah Margaret Hart and Jennifer Jean Hart: 

Despite the alluding to child abuse, family and friends of the Harts claimed the mothers and the family were happy and harmonious.  

Tweeted Terra Bundance, an activist working to promote a positive legacy of the Hart family, ‘HELP ENSURE THE PRESS STOP CREATING A FALSE IMAGE OF THE BEAUTUFUL HART FAMILY.’

Bundance in her tweet shared a facebook post courtesy of another family friend, Jillian Berry, in which she beseeched an attempt to correct what she regarded as circulation of carelessly researched media posts.

Posted Jillian Berry, ‘The world lost 5 if not 8 of the highest quality individuals ever in existence yesterday and your story was salt in the deep, thick wounds that are only beginning to be licked by more people than you could imagine. I urge you to display a shred of compassion, respect and honor by retracting any seemingly slanderous statements until a thorough investigation has occurred.’ 

RawStory spoke with Jeni Wren Stottrup, a friend of the family and a journalist who writes for a local weekly newspaper, to find out that the Hart mothers had recently celebrated their ninth anniversary of adopting, days before the fatal accident.  

The parents and the children were also involved with music production, in a youth empowerment project.  Their collaborative song can be listened to at this link.

It has already been noted that the Hart’s were frequently taking family trips. No facts are known at this juncture about their destination, if there was one? Were they intentionally going to end up in Mendocino County? Was there a rally in the area? Or were they actually headed to Sacramento, California? 

That would make a lot of sense, considering that it is already proven that the Hart family does social justice activism. Presently, there are massive protests in Sacramento, due to the fatal shooting death of unarmed black manStephon Alonzo Clark  by police officers.  If it sounds familiar, it should. It is a very similar incident as the previous one in Ferguson, the protest of which the optimistic, Devonte Hart photo encapsulated.  

The obvious and logical questions are: what was the Hart family doing from the time they departed their residence in Woodland, until the time of their fatal accident?  Where did they spend their time?  Who did they spend time with?  They covered several hundred miles. There are 3 nights and 3 days in that duration.  

Answering these basic questions would provide many clues about what they were doing along the road trip and possibly if there was foul play. Friends and family were awaiting the emergence of important facts that would dispel speculation and the running amok of themes relating to racism, leftism, rightism, lesbianism, police excessive force, and death threats. 

Body of black female found at site of Hart family crash: Discrepancies exist.