Investigators believe a couple, their baby girl, and their dog, died from hyperthermia while hiking in California this summer.
Photo by Steve Jeffe Ellen Chung, John Gerrish, with their daughter Miju and their dog Oski.
Investigators were baffled when the bodies of Ellen Chung and John Gerrish, Miju, a 1-year-old girl, and Oski, the family dog, were discovered on a central California hiking trail. Their remains were found in the Devils Gulch. There were no obvious injuries or trauma signs. It could have been caused by lightning strikes. The release of carbon monoxide and other gases from nearby abandoned mins? Exposition to cyanide Suicide? All of these theories were eliminated one by one. The deaths remained mysterious for two months. On Thursday, Mariposa sheriffs deputies, located in a small mountain community east of San Jose, declared that they had identified the cause as heat. Sheriff Jeremy Briese said that the family died from hyperthermia, possibly dehydration from excessive heat. According to the National Institutes of Health, hyperthermia refers to an abnormally high body temperature caused by a failure of heat-regulating mechanisms due to environmental conditions. Briese said that although the cause of death was not yet known, it was believed to have been the same. Briese stated that this is a tragic and unfortunate event caused by the weather.
Tim Vo / Flickr/ Creative Commons/ Via Flickr. vophoto. A section of Hite Cove Trail, springtime, April 2012.
After Gerrish, a British-born 45-year-old, failed to log in for his new job at Snapchat, the Gerrish/Chung families were reported missing on August 16. Miju was to be looked after by a nanny who said that nobody had answered the door. Chung, 30 was a yoga teacher and was studying to become a therapist. Chung, 30, was a yoga instructor who moved to Mariposa in order to provide more space for their family. They had purchased several properties in the area, including one right next to the Hite Cove Trail. Search teams found the bodies on a section of adjacent trail that was zigzagging about 1.6 miles from their truck. They had been walking more than five miles since their departure two days prior, possibly on Aug. 15. According to Steve Jeffe, a family friend, they probably just went out to explore the area. It wouldn't have been an extreme hike, so they didn't go for it. They probably did it just because they lived close to the trailhead. Let's look at these things.
Mariposa County Sheriff's Office