Gay hiking

California family found dead on hiking trail killed by extreme heat, says sheriff – WKRG News 5

MARIPOSA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A Northern California family found dead on a hiking trail in August died after overheating and running out of drinking water on a sunny August afternoon when temperatures reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit over steep mountain terrain, authorities said Thursday.

According to Mariposa County Sheriff’s Department officials, the cause of death of Jonathan Gerrish, 45; Ellen Chung, 30; and Aurélia Miju Chung, 1 year old; was determined to be “hyperthermia and possibly dehydration due to environmental exposure”.

Oski, the family dog, was also found dead. What killed the 8-year-old Australian Shepherd and Akita mix was unclear on Thursday, but Sheriff Jeremy Briese said the dog was “possibly suffering from heat-related issues.”

“This is an unfortunate and tragic event due to the weather,” he said.

The case, which had baffled investigators, involved more than 30 law enforcement agencies who had thoroughly considered – and ruled out – causes including murder, lightning, poisoning, illegal drugs and suicide.

The family was found dead Aug. 17 on the Savage Lundy Trail in Mariposa County.

Officials said the path the family walked on was exposed to constant sunlight with very little shade, with temperatures between 107 and 109 F.

Authorities found the family two days later after relatives reported them missing. The family had traveled 6.4 miles (2.5 kilometers) with the baby in a backpack-style baby carrier. They were only 2.5 kilometers from their car.

The family had an 85 ounce (2.5 liter) water tank with them that was empty. Part of the trail ran along the Merced River, where tests of the water showed it was contaminated with Anatoxin A, a deadly toxin produced by blue-green algae.

This prompted the Bureau of Land Management to close campgrounds and recreation areas along 28 miles (45 kilometers) of the river between the towns of Briceburg and Bagby. But Briese said Thursday there was no evidence the family drank water from the river.

Briese said the FBI was trying to unlock one of the couple’s cellphones, saying the agency was “making good progress.”

“Our hope is that this cell phone will continue to give us more answers on that day,” he said.

Kristie Mitchell, public information officer for the sheriff’s office, read a statement from unnamed family members at a news conference Thursday.

“Some questions have been answered, and we will use this information to help us deal with the situation, relatives said, according to the statement read by Mitchell. “Our hearts will never forget the good life of Jonathan, Ellen, Miju and, of course, Oski. They will stay with us wherever we go.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.