Police say Woman who Drove SUV with Family off Cliff was Drunk

All eight members of the Hart family died when their SUV plunged off a 30m cliff in California

All eight members of the Hart family died when their SUV plunged off a 30m cliff in California

Authorities in the USA have reportedly confirmed that the woman's body found from the Eel River was that of Keralite Soumya Thottapilly, who along with her husband and two children went missing earlier this month. Their children were black.

The Harts moved to a home in Woodland, Washington, in mid-2017, neighbors said. Little is known of their seemingly hasty departure - or of the following days - but the latest details speak to a possibly disturbing demise for the children.

A woman believed to have intentionally driven her wife and children off a cliff in the USA state of California was legally drunk, the local sheriff's office said. Alexandra Argyropoulos, who told The Associated Press previously that she contacted OR child welfare officials, said in an email Friday that Jennifer Hart ran the household "like a regimented boot camp".

Police had previously said they believed the Hart family died in a suicide plunge from a scenic overlook. "We played it out for almost a week, then we decided there was no end to it, so we probably needed to get professional help".

The Hart's former foster child, Lee, recently opened up about her experience. The next morning, the family and their vehicle were gone. Toxicology results for a third child killed are still pending, Carpenter said.

Cheryl Hart, who identified herself as a friend of Sarah Hart, called 911 in Clark County on Monday, March 26, anxious because she hadn't been able to reach Sarah since receiving a text message from her at 3 a.m. two days earlier. The friend said she'd received a text from Sara, saying she was sick, and her phone was now dead and no one had seen her or her wife, the friend told dispatch.

The biological aunt of three of the six children adopted by Jennifer and Sarah Hart tried, and failed, to gain custody of the kids in Texas before they were placed in foster care and later adopted by the Harts.

From left, Hannah Hart (16), Abigail Hart (14), Sierra Hart (12), Jeremiah Hart (14), Jennifer Hart, Devonte Hart (15), Markis Hart (19) and Sarah Hart.




The Hart family did not wear seatbelts at the time of the crash. The family lived in Woodland, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, and were reportedly on a road trip, though Child Protective Services had been trying to reach them for days. The Oregonian reported that the school district in Minnesota said Sarah and Jennifer Hart pulled their children out of school after the incident and began home-schooling them.

But they never made it, and it was the last anyone heard from them, the police said.

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.

The bodies of Jennifer and Sarah Hart were found March 26 inside the family's SUV, which had crashed at the rocky shoreline below a cliff in Mendocino County. Diphenhydramine is an antihistamine that has a sedative effect.

Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman has described the crash as a crime.

There were no skid marks at the scene, Carpenter said.

There were no witnesses to help guide police.

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