SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Brake failure, a blown tire and elements such because the climate and highway situation are among the many elements that can be checked out by investigators making an attempt to find out what precipitated an SUV carrying a Washington state household to plunge off a California cliff, however authorities would possibly by no means determine precisely what occurred.
Authorities do not know precisely when or how the SUV — which was found Monday — went over the cliff alongside a spot generally utilized by motorists to stroll their pets. They say they don’t have any motive up to now to consider it was an intentional crash that claimed the lives of two ladies and a minimum of three of their six adoptive kids simply days after youngster welfare authorities tried to contact the household over considerations in regards to the youngsters’ dwelling situations.
But in addition they stated there have been no skid marks or indicators the driving force braked because the GMC Yukon crossed a flat dust pull-off space, about 75 toes huge, and went over the sting of the Pacific Coast Highway.
“There are a lot of unknowns on this,” Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman stated. “Several of the questions which were requested right this moment won’t ever be answered.”
Allman appealed to anybody who may need seen the household of eight to return ahead. Three different kids are lacking and presumed lifeless.
The wreck was found by a passing motorist Monday afternoon. The ladies, each 38, had been discovered lifeless contained in the SUV, whereas three of their kids — Markis Hart, 19, Jeremiah Hart, 14, and Abigail Hart, 14 — had been found exterior the automobile.
A group on Thursday continued to look the rugged shoreline for the three different kids, additionally believed to have been in the SUV: Hannah Hart, 16, Sierra Hart, 12, and Devonte.
The brood was often known as the Hart Tribe, a multiracial household of two ladies and 6 kids who grew their very own meals, took spontaneous highway journeys to camp and hike, and traveled to festivals and different occasions, providing free hugs and selling unity.
One of the youngsters, Devonte Hart, drew nationwide consideration after the black teenager was photographed in tears, hugging a white police officer throughout a 2014 protest in Portland, Oregon, over the lethal police capturing of a black man in Ferguson, Missouri. Devonte was holding a “Free Hugs” signal.
Experts say accident reconstruction specialists may have info to work with as they examine how briskly the automotive was going and different elements.
That mannequin of Yukon was additionally presumably geared up with a black field recorder that will present its pace and use of the brakes, stated Marcus Mazza, an engineer and accident-reconstruction knowledgeable with Lancaster, Pennsylvania-based Robson Forensic.
Investigators can calculate the SUV’s pace based mostly on the place it landed and the peak of the drop.
“It’s fundamental physics,” Mazza stated.
Family pal Max Ribner took problem with the notion it was one thing aside from a tragic accident. The couple — Sarah and Jennifer Hart — adopted the six kids, lots of whom got here from “onerous backgrounds,” he stated. “They reworked these youngsters’ lives.”
On Thursday, authorities in Washington state additionally searched the household’s dwelling for info. The Clark County Sheriff’s Office stated deputies had been trying for payments, receipts or anything to make clear why the household left and different circumstances associated to the journey, KGW-TV reported.
Well earlier than the wreck, Sarah Hart pleaded responsible in 2011 to a home assault cost in Douglas County, Minnesota, telling authorities “she let her anger get uncontrolled” whereas spanking her 6-year-old adoptive daughter, courtroom data present.
Then, final week, Bruce and Dana DeKalb, next-door neighbors of the Harts in Woodland, Washington, referred to as state youngster protecting providers on Friday as a result of Devonte, now 15, had been coming over to their home nearly every single day for a week, asking for meals.
Dana DeKalb stated Devonte informed her his dad and mom had been “punishing them by withholding meals.” The boy requested her to depart meals in a field by the fence for him, she stated.
Social service authorities opened an investigation, and a state caseworker went to the home final Friday however did not discover anybody dwelling, state officers stated. The company had no prior historical past with the household, stated Norah West, a spokeswoman with the Department of Social and Health Services.
By Saturday, the household’s SUV was gone from the driveway, stated Bruce DeKalb.
Le reported from Seattle. Associated Press Writer Tom James contributed from West Linn, Oregon.