A couple from California tragically died while on a remote hiking trail in the Sierra National Forest along with their 1-year-old and family dog.
John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and their family dog, are all believed to have succumbed to the extreme heat, the lack of water and exertion on a hiking trail near Hite’s Cove.
A family friend had reported them missing after they did not return from their one-day hiking trip.
Gerrish also missed work as a software engineer. Their deaths were considered mysterious and many theorized it was a homicide or possilbe toxic gases from nearby abandoned mines.
Per the San Francisco Chronicle, which obtained 77 pages of reports into their deaths, investigators determined that there was a fatal combination of “disastrous choices” that lead to the tragic deaths.
The report stated how authorities first located the bodies of Gerrish, the child and the dog. The search continued for Chung, and her body was discovered “on the upside of a hill,” about 13 feet higher than her family.
Reportedly, the temperature on the trail is unforgiving in the summer months and the couple did not bring enough water. One doctor reportedly told investigators that their “clock was ticking” the moment they began the hike.
One survival trainer informed investigators that he believes the couple was “caught off guard,” and once they realized their situation, died after attempting to save their child as well as each other.
“Sadly, I believe they were caught off guard, and once they realized their situation, they died trying to save their child and each other,” the trainer wrote to detectives. “A suffering infant would give two parents the drive to push through the extreme heat,” he shared.
“It is likely the child began to succumb first, which hurried the parents’ efforts up the hill. When one could no longer continue, they stayed behind to care for the child and pet, while the other tried to forge on and get help for their loved ones. It is a tragedy of the highest order,” the trainer said.
In October, authorities stated the family died from hyperthermia and probable dehydration while hiking in Devil’s Gulch Valley.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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