The SUV that authorities said was carrying a family of eight was traveling at 90 mph before it plunged off a California cliff last week, according to court documents obtained by a local TV station.
Fox affiliate KPTV in Oregon reported that the SUV’s speedometer was “pinned” at 90 mph, indicating that the vehicle remained in motion after it fell and just before it hit the rocks 100 feet below on the Pacific Coast Highway.
Investigators also did not find any marks showing that the vehicle either accelerated or slowed down before it reached the cliff or any evidence that it crashed into the embankment as it “traversed towards the tidal zone below,” according to the documents cited by the TV station. Killed in the crash are the two mothers, Jennifer Jean Hart and Sarah Margaret Hart, both 38, and at least three of their adopted children. The other three remain missing.
The TV station reports that child services officials in Washington state, where the family lived, had begun investigating the Harts over “alleged abuse or neglect” days earlier.
The Washington Department of Social and Health Services said it tried unsuccessfully to contact the family on three occasions, first on March 23, three days before the crash, according to a statement. The agency tried again Monday, the day of the crash, and Tuesday.
Investigators are looking into the possibility of suicide, although police had said earlier that they have no reason to suspect that the crash was intentional. KPTV reported that investigators have secured a warrant to search the family’s home, including documents such as bank and cellphone records, credit-card statements, journals and suicide notes.