Jonathan Gerrish Wiki – Jonathan Gerrish Biography
Jonathan Gerrish, his wife, 30-year-old Ellen Chung, and their one-year-old daughter, Miju, died in August while hiking in Sierra national forest was killed by extreme heat and probable dehydration, law enforcement officials announced on Thursday, providing some answers to a mystery that had baffled investigators for months.
He was 45 years old.
The Mariposa county sheriff’s department believes that the family and their dog, Oski, died while hiking on the Hites Cove trail on 15 August. Temperatures were as high as 109F (42.8C) that day, and the majority of the eight-mile trail has little shade or trees.
“Heat-related deaths are tough to investigate,” said Jeremy Briese, the Mariposa county sheriff.
The unusual case had stumped law enforcement since 17 August when officials found the bodies of the family and their dog on the remote hiking trail near the Devil’s Gulch area in Sierra national forest. Briese said they were all located in the same place, and it appeared they had completed most of the hike.
Their vehicle was located a little more than a mile away, near a gate to the forest. A friend had reported the family, described as avid hikers, as missing. An 85-ounce (2.5-litre) water container the family had with them was empty, and they had no other water. There is no cellphone reception on the trail.
When officials found the bodies, no signs of the cause of death were immediately apparent, and the area was briefly treated as a hazmat site. The sheriff’s department described the case as an “unusual, unique situation.”
The case transfixed the state and prompted national news coverage as law enforcement and online investigators sought to determine what happened to the family.
In the months since, officials had considered but ultimately ruled out several other causes of death, including carbon monoxide, exposure to gas from mines in the area, a lightning strike, suicide, and drugs.
Officials also considered the possibility the family had been killed by toxic algae after water sources in the area tested positive for it but said they had found no evidence to support this as the cause of death at the news briefing. In September, Sierra national forest closed trails near the family’s death, citing “unknown hazards found in and near the Savage Lundy trail.”
Temperatures were in the 70s when the family started their hike but climbed as high as 108F as they made their way through the trail. Officials could not determine the dog’s cause of death but believed it was also related to the heat.
The circumstances of their deaths, with the entire family and dog, found together, were unusual, Griese acknowledged, but his office was confident in their findings. More than 30 local, state, and federal agencies were involved in the investigation. The FBI is analyzing a cellphone found with the family, which investigators hope will provide more information about what unfolded on the trail that day.