Woman's Body Found Near Where SUV Plunged Into River With Family

Elias Hubbard
April 16, 2018

Data recovered from the vehicle's software has led investigators to believe that the driver deliberately sped the SUV off the cliff in Mendocino County, located more than 160 miles north of San Francisco.

Toxicology tests also found that her wife, Sarah - and two of their adopted children had "a significant amount" of an ingredient commonly found in the allergy drug benadryl.

The California Highway Patrol said on Friday that Jennifer Hart, who was driving the SUV that plunged off the cliff in Mendocino County on March 26 carrying her wife and six children, had a blood alcohol level above the legal limit. A specialized team of accident investigators is trying to figure that out with help from the FBI, Carpenter said.

But their three other children - Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12 - are missing, officials said.

On Thursday, the Mendocino County Sheriff's Office said it had found belongings of the Thottapilly family, of Santa Clarita, as well as auto parts from their SUV about 14 miles down river from where investigators believe they rolled down an embankment.

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. Allman says DNA analysis from biological family members will be used to determine her identity.

A neighbor of the Harts in Woodland, Washington, had filed a complaint, saying the children were apparently being deprived of food as punishment.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart, both 39, and their six adopted children were believed to be in the vehicle at the time.

A family of four taking a West Coast road trip vanished about 30 miles from the site of the Hart family crash, authorities said this week.

They were last heard from the day before authorities received reports of a maroon Honda Pilot - the same color and make of the Thottapillys' SUV - submerging into the swollen river along US Highway 101 north of Leggett, according to local media reports.

The family of four - two parents and two children - was traveling from Portland, Oregon, to their home in Santa Clarita, California, last week when they stopped communicating with relatives.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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