Update: WILLITS, Calif. (AP) – The Latest on a coroner’s inquest into the deaths of a family whose SUV went off a Northern California cliff (all times local):
Officials testifying at a coroner’s inquest Wednesday are sharing grisly details of the deaths of a family whose SUV plunged off a Northern California cliff.
Mendocino County is holding the inquest before a jury to determine how to classify the March 2018 deaths of Jen and Sarah Hart and their six adopted children.
Jurors will decide whether the deaths were accidental, a murder-suicide or undetermined.
Mendocino County Sheriff Deputy Robert Julian says the bodies of the women were inside the car and that as the car was being towed up the cliff, one of the bodies fell out along with a backpack.
Julian says he was able to identify Sarah Hart through a Minnesota driver’s license found near the car.
He says he was not able to immediately identify Jennifer Hart due to her fall.
Authorities in Northern California will hold a coroner’s inquest to determine the manner of death for eight members of a family whose SUV plunged off a coastal cliff last year.
Mendocino County sheriff’s Capt. Greg Van Patten says that during the two-day inquest starting Wednesday a jury will hear from officials and experts, and decide whether the deaths of Jen and Sarah Hart and their six adopted children were accidental, a murder-suicide or undetermined.
The family’s SUV plunged off a seaside cliff more than 160 miles (250 kilometers) north of San Francisco. A tourist spotted the car in the water on March 26, 2018.
Five bodies were found that day. The remains of two more children were found weeks later. The remains of a teenage boy have not been found.
Mendocino County, California – The next 2 days could serve as the final chapter into the deaths of a family of eight in Northern California.
(information from KXL’s Annette Newell ) 14 members of a jury in a coroner’s inquiry are hearing from law enforcement, a search and rescue coordinator and a doctor who did the autopsies, about how they died when the mother driving the car, Jennifer Hart, drove off a cliff in California. Dr. Greg Pizarro, a forensic pathologist testified that Jennifer Hart had a blood alcohol level of more than .10, exceeding California’s legal limit for driving, which is .08. The jurors will decide from four options for the cause of each death: natural, suicide, accidental or at the hands of another. It’s the first coroner’s inquiry in Mendocino County in more than 50 years. It will not decide questions of criminal or civil responsibility for the deaths. KXL’s Jim Ferretti has the latest on the Hart Family Investigation.
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