Tears Flow in California as family dies on Hike

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Tragedy structed as John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, their daughter, Miju, and their dog were reportedly found dead Tuesday on a hiking trail near Hite’s Cove in the Sierra National Forest. Officials in Mariposa County cannot figure out how a Northern California couple, their 1-year-old child, and their dog died while hiking.

The family was found missing Monday night after John Gerrish, the husband, did not report to work. Gerrish, his wife Ellen, their daughter Miju, and their dog, were found dead along a hiking trail in Sierra National Forest. Autopsies have been completed but authorities are still dumbfounded.

“We’re not focusing on one specific cause at this point,” investigators said. “There’s just still so many that we can’t rule out. We’ve looked at lighting strikes in the area. We’ve looked at storms… the weather, animals. We’re looking at the entire area as a whole.”

Investigators have pondered whether a mix of toxic gasses, algae and carbon monoxide from abandoned mines near the area may have contributed to the family’s death.

A similar ‘hazmat’ situation was declared Tuesday related to the abandoned mines but was eventually lifted. The State Water Resources Control Board said Thursday it was testing waterways in the area for any toxic algae blooms.

The couple was known to be passionate hikers. Their friend, Mariposa real estate agent Sidney Radanovich, said Gerrish was a software designer who based in San Francisco, with his wife, “fell in love with the Mariposa area” and bought several homes there, a residence for themselves and rental investments.

None of the bodies had physical damages like gunshots or signs of trauma and no suicide note was found, Mitchell said.