Driver of Hart family SUV was drunk, authorities say
The woman behind the wheel of an SUV that plunged off a California cliff last month with her wife and children inside was drunk, authorities said on Friday.
A toxicology report revealed that Jennifer Hart had a 0.102 alcohol level, California Patrol Capt. Bruce Carpenter said. That number is higher than the legal limit in the state, which is less than .08.
The woman’s wife, Sarah, as well as two of the couple’s six adopted children, were also found with “a significant amount” of an ingredient that can be found in Benadryl in their systems, according to tests.
A side effect of the allergy drug is that it can make people tired.
Results for a third child were not yet released, Carpenter said, adding that none of the car’s occupants were wearing seatbelts.
HART CHILDREN SEARCHERS FIND CELLPHONE NEAR CRASH SITE, POLICE SAY
Authorities found the deceased bodies of the couple, both of whom were 39-years-old, and three of their children, Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14, on March 26. The other three children – Devonte, 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12 – were not found. Authorities believe the entire family was in the vehicle when it crashed into the rocky Pacific Ocean.
The five bodies were recovered days after authorities in Washington State began investigating the couple for possible child neglect.
A body was found last week near the crash site that officials said may be one of the three missing children, but the body has yet to be identified.
HART MOMS WERE NOT WEARING SEAT BELTS DURING DEADLY CALIFORNIA CLIFF CRASH, SHERIFF SAYS
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.
However, the California Highway Patrol has not concluded why the vehicle went off an ocean overlook. A specialized team of accident investigators is trying to figure that out with help from the FBI, Carpenter said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.