Some of the Hart family at the annual celebration of
Some of the Hart family at the annual celebration of "The Goonies" movie in Astoria, Oregon. Picture: AP

Mums ‘drugged kids’ and drove off cliff

A coroner's inquest has heard that the children who were killed by their lesbian mothers last year in California had drugs in their systems.

Authorities have shared more details about the March 2018 deaths of Jen and Sarah Hart and their six adopted children who died after their car drove off a cliff in California.

A helicopter hovers over steep coastal cliffs near Mendocino, California, where a vehicle, visible at lower right, plunged off a cliff along Highway 1, killing all passengers. Picture: AP
A helicopter hovers over steep coastal cliffs near Mendocino, California, where a vehicle, visible at lower right, plunged off a cliff along Highway 1, killing all passengers. Picture: AP

The inquest is trying to determine if the deaths were accidental or a murder-suicide.

Oregon Live reports that California Highway Patrol Officer Timothy Roloff testified that Jen Hart, who was driving the family's SUV, accelerated to just 32km/h not 144 km/h as previously thought.

That took her three seconds from a standing stop near the cliff, and she pressed the gas pedal to 100 percent throttle, he said.

Mr Roloff said it was "consistent with this being an intentional act".

"How often do you apply 100 percent throttle?" he told the inquest.

He based his finding on the car's internal air bag-deploying computer which is akin to an airplane's "black box."

The inquest heard that Jen Hart was drunk at the time and her wife, Sarah, had a toxic level of Benadryl in her system.

Jennifer and Sarah Hart had six adopted kids. Picture: Facebook
Jennifer and Sarah Hart had six adopted kids. Picture: Facebook

Dr Greg Pizarro said during the first day of a coroner's inquest at least three of the children also had elevated levels of the drug in their systems, but their levels were less than toxic.

Emergency responders found the mothers' bodies and those of Markis, 19, Abigail, 14, and Jeremiah, 14, soon after the crash.

They found 12-year-old Sierra's body in the weeks after the crash.

A foot belonging to 16-year-old Hannah was found later that spring.

No trace of Devonte, 15, has ever been found.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart with their kids Markis, Jeremiah, Abigail,  Ciera, Devonte and Hannah. Picture: Supplied
Sarah and Jennifer Hart with their kids Markis, Jeremiah, Abigail, Ciera, Devonte and Hannah. Picture: Supplied

Sheriff Deputy Robert Julian testified that he was able to identify Sarah Hart through a Minnesota driver's license found near the car.

"I wasn't able to identify Jennifer Hart due to her fall," Mr Julian said. However, her cause of death was listed as a broken neck.

The crash happened just days after authorities opened an investigation following allegations the children were being neglected and starved.

A neighbour of the Harts had filed a complaint after one of the children came knocking on their door complaining that they and their siblings were hungry.

Left to right, Three of the Hart children Jeremiah, then eight, Ciera 7, and  Devonte, 10. Picture: Facebook
Left to right, Three of the Hart children Jeremiah, then eight, Ciera 7, and Devonte, 10. Picture: Facebook

 

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.

Oregon child protection officers began investigating Jennifer and Sarah Hart, both 38, as far back as 2013 when the adopted children, Jeremiah, Ciera, Devonte and biological siblings Hannah, Markis and Abigail, were aged between eight and 15. However, the case was dropped.

Five of the six children were so small in 2013 that their heights and weights were not listed on growth charts for children their age, Oregon Live reported.

Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their adopted kids. Picture: Supplied
Sarah and Jennifer Hart and their adopted kids. Picture: Supplied

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