Woman who drove SUV with Hart family off cliff was drunk: police

SHARE Woman who drove SUV with Hart family off cliff was drunk: police
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Authorities in Northern California say they believe all six children from the Hart family were in a vehicle that plunged off a coastal cliff. | Thomas Boyd/The Oregonian via AP

SAN FRANCISCO — A woman who drove off a Northern California cliff last month in an SUV carrying her wife and children was drunk, authorities said Friday.

Toxicology tests found Jennifer Hart had an alcohol level of 0.102, said California Patrol Capt. Bruce Carpenter. California drivers are considered drunk with a level of 0.08 or higher.

Toxicology tests also found that her wife Sarah Hart and two of their children had “a significant amount” of an ingredient commonly found in the allergy drug Benadryl, which can make people sleepy. Toxicology results for a third child killed are still pending, Carpenter said.

Carpenter said none of the car’s occupants were wearing seatbelts.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their six adopted children were believed to be in the family’s SUV when it plunged off a cliff in Mendocino County, more than 160 miles north of San Francisco.

Authorities have said that data from the vehicle’s software suggested the crash was deliberate, though the California Highway Patrol has not concluded why the vehicle went off an ocean overlook on a rugged part of coastline. A specialized team of accident investigators is trying to figure that out with help from the FBI, Carpenter said.

Five bodies were found March 26 near the small city of Mendocino, a few days after Washington state authorities began investigating the Harts for possible child neglect, but three of their children were not immediately recovered from the scene.

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

The 100-foot drop killed the women, both 39, and their children Markis Hart, 19; Jeremiah Hart, 14; and Abigail Hart, 14.

Hannah Hart, 16; Devonte Hart, 15; and Sierra Hart, 12, have not been found.

Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum, left, and Devonte Hart, 12, hug at a rally in Portland, Ore., where people had gathered in support of the protests in Ferguson, Mo. | Johnny Huu Nguyen via AP file

Portland police Sgt. Bret Barnum, left, and Devonte Hart, 12, hug at a rally in Portland, Ore., where people had gathered in support of the protests in Ferguson, Mo. | Johnny Huu Nguyen via AP file

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