Authorities investigate SUV crash that killed family of 8

WOODLAND, Wash. (AP) — They were known as the Hart Tribe, a free-spirited family of two women and their six adopted children who raised their own food, took spontaneous road trips and traveled to festivals and other events, offering free hugs and promoting unity.

Their final journey ended not in hugs all around but in tragedy.

All eight were presumed dead after their SUV plunged off a 100-foot cliff along a seaside California highway in a mysterious wreck discovered on Monday – three days after child-welfare authorities were called to the Harts' rural Washington state home to investigate possible abuse or neglect.

"We know that an entire family vanished and perished during this tragedy," Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Wednesday as he appealed for help retracing where the family had been.

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of the crash, and the sheriff said there is "no evidence and no reason to believe that this was an intentional act."

At the same time, he said there were no skid marks and no sign the brakes were applied at the highway pull-off area where the vehicle went over.

The case has thrown a spotlight on the Hart family's previous run-ins with the law and neighbors' concerns about the youngsters.

Friends described married couple Jennifer and Sarah Hart as loving, inspiring parents who promoted social justice and exposed their "remarkable children" to art, music and nature.

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