Possible sighting of Woodland mother before deadly SUV crash

Data from SUV shows deadly California wreck may have been intentional

Investigators aren't certain whether they were in the SUV when it tumbled into the sea.

On Wednesday, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office will expand its search effort for the three missing children, Barney said. Sierra, Jeremiah and Devonte, also siblings, were adopted in February 2009 in Harris County. That image went viral and has been referred to as the "hug that was felt around the world".

In the photo, tears streamed down his face as he embraced a white police officer in the middle of a Portland, Oregon, demonstration over a grand jury's decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. He was holding a sign that read "Free hugs".

The family was traveling in a 2003 GMC Yukon on California Highway 1 when it navigated onto a dirt turnout and drove over the cliff and plunged about 100 feet onto the rocks below.

Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 38, recently moved to Woodland, Washington from West Linn, where they had lived since 2014. Three of their six adopted children, Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14, were also found dead in the vehicle. Scattered belongings, including a purse, were found nearby.

While investigators initially said there was no indication the crash was anything but an accident, data from the vehicle's software now suggested the incident was deliberate.

Family friend Max Ribner said he was not ready to believe the crash was intentional.

The photograph of their embrace, captured by a freelance photographer, was shared around the world and may have driven the family to relocate to Washington from OR, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said.

Long before the crash, Sarah Hart pleaded guilty in 2011 to a domestic assault charge in Minnesota over what she said was a spanking given to one of her children.

The court documents revealed a teacher noticed bruises on the child's back and stomach after the child said her mom had hit her. She was sentenced to community service and one year of probation.

The Woodland Washington neighbor who tried to help the Hart children said word that the crash was likely intentional was not a shock to him. He said the family was "very private". He said the Harts were a wholesome, loving family who overcame a lot of adversity.

"There was no question as to how completely loved and adored those children were", said family friend Zippy Lomax.

"They portrayed this happy little family", said neighbor Dana Dekalb. He recalled two disturbing encounters he had with the children.

She said she had done so to discipline the child.

"It's not a surprise", Bruce DeKalb said Sunday night. "And so we played it out for almost a week then we decided there was no end to it so we probably needed to get professional help and that's what we did", he said.

On Thursday, authorities in Washington state combed through the family's home for information. But she didn't answer the door.

The Hart home in Woodland, Wash. By the next morning, the family and their vehicle were gone. The agency was trying to get in touch after the "now deceased children were identified as potential victims of alleged abuse or neglect", according to a statement from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

"This family was wonderful", Jennifer Hart's friend wrote on Facebook.

The California Highway Patrol announced in a press release Monday that authorities are continuing the search for Devonte Hart, 15; Sierra Hart, 12; and Hannah Hart 16; three adopted siblings missing after a auto driven by one of their mothers went over a cliff into the Pacific Ocean, killing both parents and three adopted children.

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