April 13 (UPI) — The Washington woman behind the wheel of an SUV that went over a cliff in California, presumably killing an entire family of eight, was drunk at the time, California Highway Patrol said Friday.
CHIP Capt. Bruce Carpenter and Mendocino County Sheriff Tom Allman said Jennifer Hart had a blood alcohol level of 0.10 when the vehicle plunged into the ocean March 26.
Emergency officials found the body of Jennifer Hart, her wife, Sarah Hart, and three of their adopted children — Markis, 19, Jeremiah, 14, and Abigail, 14 — inside or near the SUV at the base of the 100-foot cliff. Police believe the other three children — Devonte 15, Hannah, 16, and Sierra, 12 — also were in the vehicle at the time and they were washed out to sea.
Investigators are using DNA analysis to determine if a body found near the site of the crash this week is one of the missing children.
Carpenter said Sarah Hart and two of the three children found dead inside the SUV had an ingredient found in allergy medicine Benadryl in their systems. The ingredient can make a person feel drowsy.
Investigators said none of the people inside the vehicle was wearing a seat belt.
“Facts in the case are coming at a rapid pace,” Allman said.
Investigators believe Jennifer Hart intentionally drove the SUV off the cliff. Tracks at the top of the cliff indicate the vehicle stopped about 70 from the cliff’s edge and accelerated to between 20 mph and 30 mph before plunging over the edge.