April 1 (Reuters) - The sports utility vehicle (SUV) that plunged off a Northern California cliff into the Pacific Ocean last week, killing a family of eight, may have been driven off the coastal highway intentionally, police said late Sunday.
The GMC Yukon appears to have been stopped by the side of the road in Mendocino County, about 180 miles north of San Francisco, before accelerating to as fast as 90 mph and hurtling off a cliff, acting Assistant CHP Chief Greg Baarts, told news media.
Data from the SUV’s software, along with the absence of skid marks, suggests the event was not an accident, Baarts told reporters.
He added that it was “pure acceleration all the way,” NBC news reported.
The SUV fell into the rocks and water about 100 feet below the highway.
A married Washington State couple, Jennifer Jean Hart, 38, and Sarah Margaret Hart, 38, and at least three of their six adopted children died, police said.
The bodies of three of the children were not recovered as of early Monday, but officials said they believe all the children were in the vehicle, along with their parents.
Officials searched the family’s Woodland, Wa., home, but found no suicide note, media reported.
The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services have told KPTV, Fox 12 in Oregon, and other media that it was investigating the family for potential child neglect or abuse.
Reporting by Rich McKay Editing by Eric Meijer