Heat stroke may be cause of deaths in California hiker family that stumped investigators

Investigators rule out ‘gun or other types of weapons, lightning strike, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, cyanide exposure, illegal drugs or alcohol, or suicide’

Harriet Sinclair
Friday 01 October 2021 17:10
<p>John Gerrish, Ellen Chung and their daughter Muji. </p>

John Gerrish, Ellen Chung and their daughter Muji.

The mysterious deaths of an entire family who perished on a hike in California’s Mariposa Country may have been caused by heat stroke or toxic algae.

Married couple John Gerrish and Ellen Chung were found dead along with their one-year-old daughter Muji and their pet dog near an area known as Devil’s Gulch, in the Southfork of the Merced River, on 17 August.

Initially, the trail was closed to the public and authorities treated it as a potential hazmat situation, believing there may be something toxic in the area could have been responsible for the deaths.

Following numerous tests, investigators have ruled out “gun or other types of weapons, lightning strike, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, cyanide exposure, illegal drugs or alcohol, or suicide” as the causes of death.

However toxic algal bloom in the nearby water has not been ruled out as yet, with police working alongside toxicologists to determine whether such poisoning could have taken place, according to ABC30.

Heat stroke is also a cause that has not yet been ruled out by detectives – temperatures in Mariposa when the family went hiking were around 107 to 109 degrees.

In a press release, Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said: “We respect and understand the need for information and details regarding this case.

“Our current priorities remain supporting and informing the Gerrish/Chung family during this tragic time. As we navigate through this investigation with the family, we will later share our findings with the public.”

California Family Mysterious Deaths

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