WOODLAND, Wash. (WCCO/AP) — A woman who died when her family plunged off a Northern California cliff in an SUV pleaded guilty to a domestic assault charge in 2011 after telling authorities “she let her anger get out of control” while spanking her 6-year-old adoptive daughter.
Sarah Hart’s plea deal in Douglas County, Minnesota, led to the dismissal of a malicious punishment of a child charge.
The California Highway Patrol says Sarah Hart, her wife and their six children likely all perished when their vehicle went off a cliff. Three children have not been found.
According to a 2010 criminal complaint the girl told a teacher at her elementary school. The teacher observed bruises on the girl and alerted authorities.
Sarah Hart told police she and her partner, Jennifer Hart, didn’t usually spank their children. Sarah Hart said she had done so to discipline the child.
Investigators believe they may have intentionally driven off the cliff because there is no evidence of brake or skid marks leading up to the edge.
One neighbor told authorities they saw the entire family leave the home quickly Friday, but it’s unknown exactly when the SUV went off the cliff.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)