It was an horrific car accident that left many questions in its wake. And now the tragic deaths of two mothers and their six adopted children when their vehicle plunged off a California clifftop just got even more disturbing.
A coroner’s inquest into the March 2018 deaths of couple Jen and Sarah Hart and their six adopted kids - Markis, 19, Abigail, 14, Jeremiah, 14, Sierra 12, Hannah, 16, and Devonte, 15 - has concluded that some of the minors had drugs in their system when they died.
Hart, who was at the wheel of the SUV, was ‘drunk’ at the time of the accident, while her wife had consumed ‘toxic levels’ of Benadryl, the inquest has heard.
Dr Greg Pizarro testified that ‘at least three’ of the children also had elevated levels of the drug. Not all of the children’s full remains were recovered from the ocean, making comprehensive testing of them all impossible.
California Highway Patrol Officer Timothy Roloff also testified that Hart accelerated to 32km/h before the accident on a winding cliff-top road. She had pressed the throttle after a near stop at the cliff edge, something ‘consistent with this being an intentional act.’
‘How often do you apply 100 percent throttle?’ Roloff asked.
Two of the children’s bodies were never recovered.
The crash followed allegations by concerned neighbours that the children were being neglected. One neighbour said the children had alleged they were being starved, and had knocked on the door begging for food.
Some photos of the kids appear to show emaciation.
Child protection officers had previously investigated the family but investigations were dropped.