Mystery of family found deceased in Sierra Nat’l Forest
#1
I know there are a lot of these types of stories online, but this one is unique in that 1) it just happened and 2) all parties were found deceased.  

Based on the theories presented thus far, all I can surmise is that the dog got into the contaminated water and licked every family member near their mouths who then ingested enough toxins to die. 

Truly bizarre and truly heartbreaking.  1dunno1

'Not one clue': The mystery is only deepening around the family found dead on a Sierra trail
Matthias Gafni Aug. 20, 2021 Updated: Aug. 20, 2021 10:18 p.m.

MARIPOSA — When the missing persons report for Ellen Chung and her husband, Jonathan Gerrish, came in at 11 p.m. Monday, a curious sheriff’s deputy had a hunch. The couple had just purchased a property near the trailhead for Hites Cove Trail 20 miles north of town, and they loved to explore the outdoors with their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and dog Oski.

…He was right — the couple’s truck was parked at the popular but remote trailhead.

It was 2 a.m.

He called in backup, and nine hours later a search-and-rescue team made the grim discovery. The father, mother, baby and dog were all dead, about 1½ miles below their truck on a series of switchbacks, appearing to be near the end of their hike. The family had been found, but the investigation was just beginning, and the mystery was only deepening in the booming foothills community that has seen an onslaught of new residents as city dwellers flee urban areas during the pandemic.

“You come on scene and everyone is deceased. There’s no bullet holes, no bottle of medicine, not one clue,” Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said from his office in town on Friday. “It’s a big mystery.”

Autopsy reports for the family and dog remained outstanding Friday, with officials saying they don’t expect any definitive answers until lab technicians in Stanislaus County and UC Davis work through toxicology reports. There are no other obvious signs of trauma or notes indicating troubles. Authorities are investigating deadly gas exposure from unknown mines, toxic bacteria blooms in the waterways and basic dehydration — it was 107 to 109 degrees Sunday afternoon when officials believe they hiked.

Nothing yet has made sense, and any semblance of foul play seems far-fetched, Briese said. This was a young, energetic family — Chung was 31 and Gerrish 45 — who had left their San Francisco apartment to start a life working remotely and raising their daughter in the wilderness they loved.

“From everyone we talk to they were extremely happy, outgoing and loved finding Mariposa, and they were able to work from home and enjoy nature, and in the short time they were here they made a lot of friends,” said Briese, who was born and raised in Mariposa.



“They’re so young, those people — something’s weird,” Murdock said, standing behind her tray of glazed doughnuts. “Everyone is shocked. This is a very safe town. It’s like Mayberry up here.”



Despite the sleepy vibe, Mariposa and the Hites Cove Trail have a dark side, she said. One of her regulars, calls it the “Mariposa Bermuda Triangle.”

Three years ago when the Ferguson Fire swept through the valley, burning more than 96,000 acres, a firefighter rolled his dozer down a ravine along the Hites Cove Road stretch of the trail and died. The north side of the trail empties out onto Highway 140 and the Yosemite Cedar Lodge, a notorious landmark.

In 1999, serial killer Cary Stayner was working as a handyman at the motel when he murdered 42-year-old Carole Sund; her daughter, 15-year-old Juli Sund; Juli's friend, 16-year-old Argentine exchange student Silvina Pelosso; and Yosemite Institute employee Joie Ruth Armstrong. Sund and the teens had been staying at the motel.

In the latest tragedy, authorities believe the family left for their hike Sunday afternoon. The last known communication was with a friend earlier that morning.

When the deputy found the truck, a search-and-rescue team hiked down the steep and straight road with flashlights and found shoe and paw prints similar to what you’d expect from a family of that size with a dog, Briese said.

At 3:20 a.m., the sheriff’s office reserved a search helicopter for daybreak. They called in a second search team that began winding down the switchbacks that complete the loop back up to the Forest Service gate. This section of the Hites Cove Trail makes a loop, with the halfway point the south fork of the Merced River.

About 1.5 miles down the switchbacks, around 11 a.m. Tuesday, the team found the family in the middle of the trail. The husband was in a seated position, the child beside him along with the dog, and the wife just a little farther up the hill. Briese said they believe the family was returning to their truck.

A cell phone was in Gerrish’s pocket. There is little to no cell coverage on that section of trail. Investigators are trying to determine if the phone saved any failed text message drafts, attempted calls or photos, along with GPS location data, Briese said.

The family also had a backpack with a bladder that held a small amount of water, the sheriff said. They sent the water for testing. There was no indication whether the family had been swimming, as they would have dried off by the time they were found, he said.

Two deputies slept near the family that night to ensure that no one tampered with the scene. The family was airlifted off the trail the next morning by a CHP helicopter.

Briese said they are investigating all possibilities to start eliminating options. While temperatures were scorching Sunday afternoon, dehydration seemed like a long shot, with their pet dying and the camelback still containing water. On Friday, investigators combed the lower section of the trail for unreported mines, but experts said it likely would take an exposure inside a mine shaft to kill a family. Investigators also took samples of bacteria blooms along the south fork of the Merced River and Snyder Creek, which run adjacent to the trail. Briese said they would also test for any other possible contamination in the water.

There have been few, if any, reports of human deaths linked to freshwater bacteria blooms. University of Southern California biological sciences Professor David Caron, who specializes in such proliferations, called them a “threat to both animals and humans.”

“Freshwater is a little more of the Wild West,” Caron said. “This is something that’s come onto our radar in the last five, six, seven years.”

The most common type in California is cyanobacteria. The one most connected to dog deaths is Anatoxin-a, also known as very fast death factor, a dangerous neurotoxin. The mass usually floats to the surface and creates blue-green scums in a river environment, especially in eddies. It can be fatal if the dog drinks the water.

“Dogs can go downhill pretty quickly,” Caron said. “With a high enough toxin, you can have a rapid death if you’re exposed to enough of it.”

Could they kill humans rapidly?

“It’s conceivable that it is the cause,” Caron said. “But a lot needs to be done forensically to tie it to toxins. ... The question is if in the area there’s high enough concentrations.”

These types of bacteria blooms occur when nutrients in the ecosystem, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, build up. That is caused by humans, he said, as fertilizer and other chemicals seep into water systems. Drought and climate change exacerbate that process.

“The bacteria likes water warm and stagnant,” he said. “You slow water down and warm it up, it gives bacteria a competitive advantage.”

Fernanda Bray spends most Mondays over the summer hiking down to the south fork of the Merced River, on the northern end of Hites Cove Trail, along Highway 140, swimming, fishing and playing with her husband and two sons. She was alarmed when she heard law enforcement was probing whether that waterway played a role in the mysterious deaths.

“That could’ve easily been us,” said Bray, standing at the cash register of her Mariposa decor shop, Barnhoppers.

On Thursday, in a neighborhood near where the family’s truck was found, a Chronicle reporter ran into a man who identified himself as Chung’s brother. He cried as he explained how difficult the past 48 hours had been for his family. He said the family was not ready to speak about the tragedy and asked for privacy.

Sitting in his office, Briese said he has asked for the toxicology results to be expedited. His staff is working around the clock to find answers for the family. It gnaws at him.

“You have a healthy family, and it’s a tragic loss of a child and the entire family and there’s no real answers,” he said. “It’s frustrating as an investigator and as a father that we haven’t been able to provide some closure for the family.”i
That’s My King! —Dr. S.M. Lockridge, Official https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE
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#2
Thanks for posting about this, Verity. I read it from a link in my email this morning. A serious head scratcher!!

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#3
(08-21-2021, 09:10 AM)Sami aka Roxi Wrote: Thanks for posting about this, Verity. I read it from a link in my email this morning. A serious head scratcher!!
You’re welcome, Sami. I hope the test results will solve this mystery.
That’s My King! —Dr. S.M. Lockridge, Official https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE
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#4
(08-21-2021, 09:17 AM)Verity Wrote:
(08-21-2021, 09:10 AM)Sami aka Roxi Wrote: Thanks for posting about this, Verity. I read it from a link in my email this morning. A serious head scratcher!!
You’re welcome, Sami. I hope the test results will solve this mystery.
My goodness, I hope so too!

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#5
(08-21-2021, 09:17 AM)Verity Wrote:
(08-21-2021, 09:10 AM)Sami aka Roxi Wrote: Thanks for posting about this, Verity. I read it from a link in my email this morning. A serious head scratcher!!
You’re welcome, Sami. I hope the test results will solve this mystery.
Unlikely, that people with that description would've taken the Nanotechnology mRNA injections. Although it does make me wonder about what is leaving the body in the injected people's urine, and what contamination that could cause. It would be very difficult for any dog to survive in that intense heat for any length of time, a baby too.
Some people embraced big pharma to change nature whereas I listened to Jesus and embraced nature to improve the change. The heavenly Father said, "This is my daughter in whom I am well pleased". 18.1.2020. 
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#6
Hmm, I wonder what kind of dirt they had on the Clinton's.

Scratchinghead
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#7
https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/art...70788.html

Mariposa sheriff shares update in mysterious family death case in Sierra near Yosemite
By Carmen Kohlruss
Updated August 26, 2021 04:43 PM

Weapons or “chemical hazards” along a trail have been “ruled out” as a possible cause of death in a mysterious case of a Mariposa family found dead while hiking in Sierra National Forest over a week ago.

“ALL other potential causes of death remain,” the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday while sharing a brief timeline of the investigation into the deaths of Jonathan Gerrish, 45, Ellen Chung, 30, and their 1-year-old daughter, Aurelia Miju Chung-Gerrish and 8-year-old dog, Oski, described as an Aussie-Akita mix.

The family was found dead by a search and rescue team on Aug. 17 along the Savage-Lundy Trail in Devil’s Gulch near Hites Cove, a remote location in Sierra National Forest that’s northeast of Mariposa and southwest of Yosemite National Park.

Autopsies for the family and dog were completed two days later.

“The pathologist currently is issuing an autopsy finding of ‘pending toxicology,’” said Kristie Mitchell, spokesperson for the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office.

Toxicology tests are not yet complete. The sheriff’s office has not shared what toxins are being tested for in the toxicology tests. Samples from the dog were sent to multiple labs for testing.

Multiple water samples were taken in the area for testing. There is a known toxic harmful algal bloom on the south fork of the Merced River, a couple miles from where the family was found dead, which is among hazards still being considered in their deaths. Mitchell said some water samples were sent to labs for testing Aug. 19, and additional water samples were collected Monday from “along the trail area” where they were found. Water the family was carrying also is being tested. Results from those tests also are pending.

Mitchell said samples were sent to both the California State Water Resources Board Board and independent labs for testing, and that “further assistance for additional testing” is being coordinated with the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionand the California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.

Mariposa Sheriff Jeremy Briese said detectives are working “round the clock” to find answers for Gerrish’s and Chung’s family and friends. 

“Cases like this require us to be methodical and thorough,” Briese said, “while also reaching out to every resource we can find to help us bring those answers to them as quickly as we can.”

The sheriff’s office said the entire Savage-Lundy Trail loop, where the family was found dead, is approximately 8.5 miles, with 5 miles of that being a “steep southern exposure path with little-to-no trees or shade” in the 2018 Ferguson Fire burn scar. Sheriff officials said temperatures there appeared to range from 103 and 109 in certain parts of that trail between 11:50 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. Aug. 15, the day the family is believed to have been hiking it.

The family started their hike from a trailhead down Hites Cove Road north of Jerseydale in Mariposa County.

“Detectives continue conducting interviews and investigating all potential possible explanations for the death of the Gerrish/Chung family,” Mitchell said in a news release issued Thursday afternoon.

Law enforcement first treated the area where they were found dead as a hazmat situation because of the strange circumstances and old gold mines in that region. The hazmat declaration was lifted the next day. Briese said mines weren’t found close to the family.

The sheriff’s office plans to share another update when toxicology results are back, and “there is no current timeframe for that.”

On Aug. 20, Mitchell said toxicology results can take up to six weeks, and sometimes longer.

Investigation timeline from Mariposa sheriff about family death case

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office also shared the following timeline of recent events and their investigation.
  • Saturday, Aug. 14: Jonathan Gerrish researches Hites Cove hike via a phone app.

  • Sunday, Aug. 15: 7:45 a.m., witness sees the Gerrish/Chung family traveling toward the trailhead in their vehicle.

  • Monday, Aug. 16: 11 p.m., a family friend reports the family missing.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 17: 1:53 a.m., the family’s car is located down Hites Cove Road north of Jerseydale.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 17: 1:55 a.m., a search and rescue mission is initiated.

  • Tuesday, Aug. 17: 11 a.m., the family is found dead on the Savage-Lundy Trail by a search and rescue team.

  • Thursday, Aug. 19: Autopsies are completed on the family and dog, “all currently pending toxicology.”

  • Friday, Aug. 20: Search warrants issued for a phone found with the family.

  • Friday, Aug. 20: Search warrants issued for the family’s home and cars. “Nothing significant” is found.

  • Monday, Aug. 23: Additional water samples are collected from water sources “along the trail area.”

  • Tuesday, Aug. 24: A cell phone is delivered to the FBI for data extraction, “awaiting results.”

  • Wednesday, Aug. 25: Search warrants issued for “possible social media access.”
[color=rgba(79, 50, 28, 0.9)][Image: Mariposa%20family%20all%20together]

[color=rgba(79, 50, 28, 0.9)]A family who moved to Mariposa County in the past year went for a hike Sunday and never returned. The bodies of John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, 1-year-old daughter Miju and the family dog were found late Monday night near the Devil’ Gulch area in the Southfolk of the Merced River drainage. Cause of death still was being determined. Courtesy photo Steven Jeffe[/color]
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That’s My King! —Dr. S.M. Lockridge, Official https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE
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#8
This is so strange!

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#9
(08-27-2021, 08:34 AM)Sami aka Roxi Wrote: This is so strange!
It has to be the water somehow, even though the known toxic area isn’t that close to where they were found. Maybe the water they carried in. The only other thing I can think of is that one of the adults poisoned all of them intentionally which doesn’t seem at all likely.  1dunno1
That’s My King! —Dr. S.M. Lockridge, Official https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzqTFNfeDnE
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#10
People should always carry and use RO water filters when hiking/backpacking
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