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Family dreaded dead in SUV crash had worried home life, neighbors say



It was 1:30 am when Bruce DeKalb answered the knock on his door and found a small girl from the family who had recently moved in beside his home in rural Woodland, Washington.

Hannah Hart was covered in weeds after she jumped out the window of her family on the second floor and ran through the forest to reach DeKalb's house, he said. She ran upstairs, found the bedroom and woke his wife, Dana.

"This kid completely lost his mind, just rattling to the bone," said Bruce DeKalb.

The incident was one of several that concerned the DeKalbs about the family who moved in last year: couple Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 38, and their six adopted children. Later, they learned that Hannah, who they thought was about 7 years old, was actually a teenager. Her front teeth were missing.

"They had a story about them that knocked them and said they did not want them repaired," DeKalb said. On Monday, the Harts' SUV hit a cliff on the Pacific Coast Highway in California crashes on rocks 1

00 feet below and kills the mothers and at least three of their children, with the other three still missing.

The DeKalbs said they had child protection services three days earlier at the behest of Another of the couple's children, 15-year-old Devonte Hart, who said they regularly visited their homes and asked for food. The DeKalbs said they knocked a CPS worker at the door of the Harts, but nobody answered.

What has happened to this family on the gravel of a winding road, nearly 600 miles south of their house, has left worrying questions

Police said there were no skid marks where the vehicle left the road and over Cliff drove, but they had no reason to suspect that the crash was intentional.

Samantha Sinclair, a Portland trauma nurse, has known the family since 2014 that it's "unfathomable" that the accident was anything but an accident. She suspected that the driver had a medical emergency or that the parking brake failed or that the family suffered another accident.

Californian police investigate and report no autopsy results or crash investigation

It was the second time that the Hart family had captured the world's attention. The first was in 2014, when Devonte, then 12 years old, was swallowed in the arms of a white policeman in Portland, Oregon, where people had gathered to support the protests in Ferguson, Mo.

Devonte and his siblings are black. Jennifer and Sarah Hart were white

The mixed race of the family sparked mistrust and anger around the case, reflected in hundreds of online comments posted on Facebook posts that mourned the family. Many of the comments questioned the motives of white women adopting black children.

"Your friends are killers," a commentator wrote in response to a post by Jammie Hermans, a friend of Harts, who had written a long tribute calling the couple "the example of marriage and parenting that I sought to imitate and emulate . "

Hermans said in an interview that the messages she has seen on Facebook show "how far we still have to go in racial relationships, the racial tension is still there."

Stacey Patton, Assistant Professor of Multimedia Journalism Morgan State University said the response to the Hart case is more complicated.

"Whenever black bodies are killed, something white people have done, there is this almost intuitive response from white people who," We should not hurry to judge, we do not have all the facts, "said Patton. "White people are constantly at the mercy of the doubt, despite the evidence we have here, possibly six dead children."

Hermans said that Harts devoted parents were to two groups of three siblings adopted in Texas said that people who never knew her jump to insulting and hurtful conclusions about their motives and upbringing.

"Were they perfect? No, but they are not the monsters they are painted with, "said Hermans, who went to high school with Jennifer Hart in South Dakota and met Sarah Hart, who was originally from Minnesota, shortly after," The amount of love and goodness "What they put into this world is what their legacy should be."

Minnesota court documents show that Sarah Hart was convicted of domestic violence in 2011 and received a 90-day probationary probationary year -supported couple with blue marks on their backs and tummy came to the school to call police and child protection authorities.

Sarah Hart told the police she "let her anger get out of control" And bent the girl over a bathtub and beat her, court records show.

Retired Alexandria Police Department Detective Sgt. Larry Dailey, who examined the case, said the two mothers s "not happy" that the school, childcare services and the police were involved in the case.

"They thought it was a bit over the top to beat a kid," Dailey said.

Dailey also said that the women "expressed a feeling that they did not fit in their little town" and said that they intended to move. "The kids would get strange looks at the school, and the mothers would get strange looks in the church," he said.

When the family moved to West Linn, neighbor Bill Groener said they were comfortable, but very private.

They were very beautiful children, they smiled a lot. But you really could not talk to them. It was as if they had been asked for it, "said Groener," It seemed they were fairly controlled. "

During her time in West Linn, Devonte was photographed with the white policeman Zippy Lomax, a friend of the family , said the Harts had received death threats and hateful emails in which the photo was falsified and Devonte was an actor.

The Harts then became "more island-like and more private and guarded," Lomax said, "for some observers." "Hard to control," she said, "were just the hardships trying to protect their children."

Groener said that the Harts often said that they had more land to raise their animals than they could Telling him that they were moving to a new home in rural Washington, "it seemed to me that they had found their dream location."

It was months after the Harts arrived at Woodland that the DeKalbs unusual B Encounters with Hart Children

This month, Devonte came to their home and asked for food, saying that his parents would not feed him, DeKalb said. The DeKalbs gave him tortillas and peanut butter, and he went home.

The 15-year-old returned again and again, and last Thursday he stopped three times, including at 11:30. He had asked for six packets of tortillas and a box of peanut butter, some salted meat and apples.

Devonte also asked the couple if they had called CPS, DeKalb said.

He said they called the agency last Friday saw a CPS employee knock on the front door of the Harts and then go after a minute. When the CPS employee returned on Monday, the Harts were gone, DeKalb said. The Harts had plunged into their SUV between Friday night and Saturday morning and drove off.

Washington CPS did not respond to a request for comment.

"When children come into the house in the middle of the night, I can not help thinking that something is wrong," DeKalb said.

Maureen O & # 39; Hagan and Julie Tate contributed to this report.


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