Nobody went to the door when a child-care worker went to Washington's large, free-spirited Hart family to investigate a neighbor's complaint that the children were hungry.
Three days later, the harts & # 39; crumpled SUV was found at the foot of a 100-foot nautical cliff in northern California, all eight family members believed to be dead in a mysterious wreck that is now being investigated. Five bodies were found, but three children are still missing.
"There are many unknowns," said Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman. "Some of the questions that are being asked today will never be answered."
Investigators need to investigate the cause of the crash and say that there is no reason to believe it is intended. But they also said there were no skid marks or signs that the driver braked as the GMC Yukon crossed a shallow dirt drain area about 75 feet wide and drove over the edge of the Pacific Coast Highway.
The case has thrown a limelight on at least one prior confrontation with the law by the Harts, along with the repeated concerns of neighbors regarding the way the home-educated adolescents were treated.
However, some family friends say that this is not being pursued with their knowledge of their parents, Sarah and Jennifer Hart, as a loving couple who promoted social justice and exposed their "remarkable" children to art, music, and nature.
The breed was known as Hart Tribe, a multiracial family of two wives and six adopted children who grew their own food, made spontaneous trips to camp and hike, traveled to festivals and other events, offered free hugs and encouraged unity [1
But Sarah Hart pleaded long before the wreck in 2011, guilty of lying in Douglas County, Minnesota, "letting her anger out of control" (19659002) Then, last week, Bruce and Dana DeKalb shouted, Harts neighbors in Woodland, Washington, state state child protection services on Friday because Devonte, now 15, came to her house every day for almost a week, asking for food.
Dana DeKalb said Devonte told her that his parents "punish them by holding food back." The boy asked her to leave food for him in a box by the fence, she said.
The social services opened an investigation, and a government official went to the house last Friday, but found no one at home, officials said. The agency had no family history, said Norah West, a spokeswoman for the Department of Social and Health Services.
On Saturday, the family's SUV had disappeared from the driveway, Bruce DeKalb said.
The wreck was discovered by a passing motorist Monday afternoon. The women, both 38, were found dead in the SUV, while three of their children – Markis Hart, 19, Jeremiah Hart, 14, and Abigail Hart, 14 – were spotted outside the vehicle.
One crew continued on Thursday to search the rugged coast for the three other children who were also said to be in the SUV: Hannah Hart, 16, Sierra Hart, 12, and Devonte.
On Thursday, authorities in Washington also searched the family home for information. The Clark County Sheriff's Office said that MPs were looking for bills, receipts or anything else to find out why the family was leaving and other circumstances related to the trip, KGW-TV reported.
The DeKalbs also told that three months after the Harts When they moved to their house in May with a fenced pasture in May, one of the girls rang the doorbell of the DeKalbs at 1:30
She "stood in a blanket and said we had to protect them, "Bruce DeKalb said. "She said that she is abusing her." The whole family came to their house the next morning to apologize and explain that it was a bad week, Dana DeKalb said.
The Sheriff said the investigators did not know exactly when or how the SUV drove over the cliff spot, which is often used by motorists to walk their pets. Allman appealed to anyone who might see the family coming.
Accident reconstruction experts said the investigators would look at such factors as the weather, road conditions, and the possibility of brake failure, a blown tire, or some other malfunction. 19659002] This model of Yukon was probably also equipped with a Black Box Recorder, which would show its speed and use of the brakes, said Marcus Mazza, an engineer and accident reconstruction expert at Robson Forensic of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Family friend Max Ribner felt it was something other than a tragic accident. The couple adopted the six children, many of whom came from "tough backgrounds," he said. "They have changed the lives of these children."
"This is a tragic accident of a magnitude that can not be measured," said Zippy Lomax, a photographer who knew the Harts. "They were really radiant, warm, adventurous, inspiring, they were always on a big adventure, and the kids lived this life that was somehow like that dream."
Le reported from Seattle. Associated Press Writer Tom James contributed from West Linn, Oregon.