Fifteen-year-old Devonte Hart and two of his sisters were missing after a Monday wreck in which their family's vehicle drove off a Northern California cliff, killing their adoptive parents and three of their siblings, ABC News reports.
Experts say investigators should be able to determine how fast an SUV believed to be carrying a family of eight was traveling when it plunged off a cliff in California.
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services confirmed that CPS tried to make contact with the family on Friday, Monday and Tuesday but were unable to reach them. Tierney also provided further details of the alleged abuse.
But their final journey ended in tragedy.
The two women, along with three of their six children, were declared dead after their SUV plunged off a cliff and landed on a rock along California's coastal Route 1, according to the Portland Oregonian.
Sheriff Tom Allman told reporters, "We have every indication to believe that all six children were in there, however only three bodies have been recovered". However, Allman said there is no reason to believe the act was intentional.
Sarah and Jennifer Hart had adopted the 6 children from 2 separate biological families.
Devonte Hart's image went viral in 2014 after he was photographed hugging a police officer, tears streaming down his face, during a Black Lives Matter protest. Devonte was holding a "Free Hugs" sign when the officer requested one.
The Hart Tribe also went to events such as rallies for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, often showing up in matching T-shirts.
Bruce and Dana DeKalb, next-door neighbors of the Harts in Woodland, Wash., called child welfare workers on Friday because Devonte went to their house nearly every day for a week, asking for food, Dana DeKalb said. He also asked Devonte where he went to school (he is home-schooled), what he did this summer (he traveled around the USA with his family), and what he likes to do (art).
"This is a tragic accident of a magnitude that can not be measured", Lomax told the Associated Press. "People were sending them death threats".
Dana DeKalb said Devonte told her that his parents were "punishing them by withholding food".
Last Friday, DeKalb said, he called Child Protective Services.
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The Harts' reputation for seeking privacy began before Woodland.
In the more recent probe, CPS workers had come to the family home at least three times, but the women refused to answer the door.
"They had the pleasure of just waking up in the morning and just saying, 'We're going to the beach today, '" he said.
The Harts' neighbor, Bruce DeKalb, said the family moved in about 10 months ago and was "very private".
In April 2011, Sarah Hart pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of domestic assault before Judge Ann Carrott in Alexandria.
Abigail, who was six years old at the time, reportedly told authorities that she was given a harsh punishment after she was found with a penny in her pocket.
Sarah Hart told police she and her partner, Jennifer Hart, didn't usually spank their children.
The case has now thrown a spotlight on the Hart family's previous run-ins with the law and neighbours' concerns about the youngsters.
Samantha Sinclair, a Portland trauma nurse who has known the family since 2014, said it was "unfathomable" that the crash was anything but an accident.
"They just got so much attention after that picture was taken, they just needed to get away from that", Carbajal said.
"They really found the goodness in everybody and I hope they we can all really learn a lovely lesson from that and carry that legacy on", Max said.
Outside the auto, emergency responders found the bodies of Markis Hart, 19, and Jeremiah Hart and Abigail Hart, both 14.