The Tragedy of This Entire Family

This entire family
This entire family

The tragedy of this entire family is something very astonishing, something that movies could literally be made over, that is for sure.

“Sadly, I believe they were caught off guard, and once they realized their situation, they died trying to save their child and each other,” a survival trainer told detectives, The San Francisco Chronicle reported in regards to this family.

This was a California family of three that was found dead on a Northern California hiking trail in August, most likely dying because they were trying to save their baby from the extreme heat, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The family consisted of John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, and their baby daughter Aurelia “Miju” and Oksi, the family dog, an 8-year-old Aussie-Akita mix. They had gone on a hike through the Sierra National Forest before it had turned deadly. It was October when the Mariposa County Sheriff determined that this family had died of hyperthermia and possible dehydration.

Part of the reason that this situation turned fatal for this family is that the temperatures during that day had literally soared to triple digits. There was also an absence of shade and a lack of water that contributed to this family’s demise.

Officials published a 77-page report that was obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle and Inside Edition Digital that the baby had probably died first and the parents’ desperate efforts to save their baby and themselves were unsuccessful.

The authorities said that the family did have a cellphone with them, but they didn’t have any cell service. Moreover, News Nation reported that they weren’t able to gain access to the phone.

It was on August 17th that the family’s remains were found just about 1.5 miles from their vehicle. They were hiking on a very steep trail and the temperatures were warmer than hikers would likely expect unless they had been familiar with it, according to sheriff deputies. Temperatures that day were pretty nasty, with highs between 107 and 109 degrees.

Search crews would ultimately find an 85-ounce CamelBak water jug that they had been carrying that had been empty. Moreover, authorities were not able to locate any other water storage products at the camp.

“Heat-related deaths are extremely difficult to investigate,” Mariposa County Sheriff Department, Jeremy Briese said, describing their deaths as “unfortunate,” and “horrible.”

“It is rare. This is the first hyperthermia-type death as long as I have worked here for 20 years. We don’t see them all the time, but there are desert areas in California where these types of tragedies happen,” he said.

According to six separate laboratories, this family tested positive for Anatoxin A, according to Briese.

Briese said “we do not have any evidence indicating that Jonathan, Ellen, or Miju ingested any of that water. We also know that there has been no recorded death in humans connected with Anatoxin A; we do know that it can be deadly to animals,” Briese said.

Officials from the Sierra National Forest (SNF) had posted several warnings about toxic algae, so when they were investigating this scene they made sure to bring in the HazMat crew as well.

Investigators also checked some nearby mine shafts, but they confirmed that none of the family members had gone into them.

“From the beginning, the Gerrish and Chung families have been our top priority,” the sheriff said. “We are confident in our findings and our investigation supports the findings from the Pathologist / Coroner’s office and assisting agencies.”

The story first broke in August and puzzled authorities described it as “nothing the agency has seen before.”

“It is not every day you come across a scene of an entire family and their dog that are seemingly healthy,” Mariposa County spokesperson Kristie Mitchell said.

Mitchell told Inside Edition that this family had moved to the Mariposa area from the San Francisco area within just the past 18 months and they actually did not even live that far from this trailhead. They were both avid hikers and they had hiked down many of these trails in that area. Some say they were drawn to the incredible wildflowers that are usually found in the spring.

She noted that the Gerrish-Chung family had ventured to a fairly popular hiking area.

“This time of year there aren’t as many hikers because it’s hot, a little rugged, and being part of the Ferguson Fire Footprint there isn’t much shade,” she said.

A family friend told KPGE that Gerrish was originally from the United Kingdom and Chung was from San Francisco. She said the couple were the owners of several rental properties in Mariposa County and described them as “genuine people.”

Another friend of the family said that Gerrish had originally worked as a software engineer for Google before they moved to Mariposa. They had married two years ago, according to the source.

“The loss of a close relative is pain almost beyond words. When that loss is multiplied by four, and one of that four is a baby of just one-year-old, then that pain is indescribable,” their family wrote in a statement that was read during the October press conference where they thanked the authorities for working on the tragedy of this entire family.

“When that pain is then further impacted by the lack of knowledge and certainty as for reasons for the death than the question of why, where and when and how to fill your mind all the days and all the nights,” they added.

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