Woman who drove SUV off California cliff was drunk, police say

Aaron Brown
April 15, 2018

Jennifer Hart (center) was drunk when she drove her wife and six children off of a cliff in California, according to police.

The bodies of Jennifer and Sarah Hart were found March 26 inside the family's SUV, which had crashed at the rocky shoreline below a cliff in Mendocino County.

Toxicology tests found that Jennifer Hart had an alcohol level of.102, according to California Highway Patrol Captain Bruce Carpenter. Toxicology results for a third child killed are still pending, Carpenter said. Another body, believed to be one of the missing Hart children, was recovered from the ocean on April 7. Officials initially thought the remains were that of a child, but later clarified that it was a woman. The authorities were hunting for one additional few children: Hannah Devonte, 15; along with Sierra.

Two more are missing and another body has been found but not identified.

Officials have said the crash may have been intentional, judging by software in the vehicle showing it stopped at a pull-off area before speeding off the cliff.

Allman said "there were no skid marks, there were no brake marks".

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Cocaine addiction led to Davis losing custody of Devonte in 2006, along with siblings Jeremiah and Sierra, whom she'd named Ciara Rose.

The California Highway Patrol said that witnesses have told them they saw a SUV matching the description of the one owned by the Thottapilly family rolled through a highway pullout, slam into trees as it went down a 150-foot embankment and crash into the swift-moving waters of the Eel River. The family's attorney was also unavailable for comment Friday. She also said The Farm restaurant in Kittery hosted a fundraiser for the couple, but she did not know the exact amount that was raised. The crash happened just days after authorities in Washington state opened an investigation following allegations the children were being neglected. Devonte Hart had made headlines years before the crash when a picture of him hugging a police officer during police-brutality protests went viral.

While socio-economic and cultural background are often considered the most influential factors in a child's ability to succeed at school, Hancock said the research demonstrates that children's family history - particularly in relation to their grandparents - is of upmost importance.

Late last month, the DeKalbs called Child Protective Services (CPS) with concerns.

A friend of Downs, who lives nearby, said that every evening when Downs returned home from work she would call her, and after she had eaten, she would come over to her house and they would sit down and talk.

The family arrived in Fort Bragg, California, on the night of Saturday, March 24, and were there until Sunday night, the day before their SUV was found.

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