CA - Jonathan Gerrish, Ellen Chung, daughter, 1 & dog, suspicious death hiking area, Aug 2021 #5

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HS in MOO was the *SINE QUA NON*in this tragedy. Are there other factors (accidental poisoning?).... we'll never know.
Never is a long, long time. But you may be right.

MOO
 

Kaley Smith

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I think most people can’t believe heatstroke was the COD because they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that this couple did this hike in the first place. But that is because those folks are not putting themselves in the Gerrishes shoes. My question to all the HS doubters is this - can you comprehend why certain people skydive, snowcamp, climb Mt Everest, tight rope walk between 2 skyscrapers in NYC etc? Or does that seem ‘crazy - no one would do that’ type of thing? MOO

But do they do all these risky things with their 1-yr old child? That's what I can't wrap my head around. It makes no sense.
 

Lex Parsimoniae

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No - I don’t consider going to a beach a risk unless it is considered a very dangerous one - in which case I wouldn’t take my dog or my children.

And this is exactly why I don’t believe Jon and Ellen would have done that hike.
The family on the beach had a 4 yr old and a 7 yr old. Even a swimming pool is dangerous for kids that young, if the parents are not attentive. Ocean beaches more so, since they have breakers. I was recently at that same beach with my very attentive wife, 6 yr old granddaughter, and dog. The waves were only 2', no worries. It's not the beach that was so dangerous, it was the conditions on that day. Other people hike the Savage Lundy trail safely, but not in hot weather. Same trail, different conditions. Their bodies were found on that trail. Res ipsa loquitur. MOO.
 

LifeIsAMystery

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Imo, she could have been dropped off at the trailhead, or she could have walked if the rental is close enough. JG would have had the car and the bulk of the belongings for the outing.

I brought up the atv point because it helps me reconcile SJ’s two seemingly contradictory comments, per MSM that he knew they were going on a hike; but later says he thought the car might have gone off the trail. This suggests to me that he considered the possibility that they may have tried to take the truck on the trail imo.
Do you have a link to either of these comments by any chance? TIA.
 

rahod1

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But do they do all these risky things with their 1-yr old child? That's what I can't wrap my head around. It makes no sense.

The obvious answer (MOO) >>>They didn't perceive the hike as risky. The real quandary is this>> was there a point in the hike where they QUESTIONED that?? MOO>> There certainly must have been a point where they had thoughts of turning around...but decided to venture on because the thought of turning back as too daunting.
 

Lex Parsimoniae

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Imo, she could have been dropped off at the trailhead, or she could have walked if the rental is close enough. JG would have had the car and the bulk of the belongings for the outing.

I brought up the atv point because it helps me reconcile SJ’s two seemingly contradictory comments, per MSM that he knew they were going on a hike; but later says he thought the car might have gone off the trail. This suggests to me that he considered the possibility that they may have tried to take the truck on the trail imo.
Hmmm.... that's interesting. I looked it up earlier, all the trails were closed for a couple of years after the 2018 Ferguson Fire, but were reopened, maybe early this year. I also read that off highway vehicles are allowed at some times, but because of fire danger they do close it to OHV's during the summer. I couldn't find past information on that though, and it's now closed to everything due to the "unknown hazard". Perhaps JG planned to drive down the HCT and park near the bottom, then hike around down by the river and drive back up. But finding the gate locked, decided to hike the part he planned to drive. I don't know how difficult it is to drive, there was a review of hiking down the HCT and meeting full size 4WD vehicles coming up, so at least it could be done in the recent past. MOO.
 

Lex Parsimoniae

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The obvious answer (MOO) >>>They didn't perceive the hike as risky. The real quandary is this>> was there a point in the hike where they QUESTIONED that?? MOO>> There certainly must have been a point where they had thoughts of turning around...but decided to venture on because the thought of turning back as too daunting.
I'm certain they grew alarmed as it got hotter and the baby reacted as babies do when they are uncomfortable, and their water dwindled. They could well have been past the halfway point in miles when that happened, as the first half is almost all downhill, fast and easy. Going back or going forward, the second half is uphill, a lot harder and slower, and the day is just getting hotter. So they may have realized that it was too late to turn around, and pressed on. My take on their climb up the SLT is they thought they had no better option, and their loved ones were depending on them. It shows drive and perseverance to push yourself to your limit. MOO
 

Andreee

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We may need to create a poll to actually establish whether there is a "nearly unanimous disbelief amongst us" here. I'm not sure it's anywhere as "nearly unanimous" as some may think. A vocal minority may be louder than the silent majority, but it doesn't mean they actually outnumber them.

I don't think the majority necessarily believe there is a "nearly unanimous disbelief" either! I certainly am of the opinion and mindset that this is not a murder or drug related incident, but rather an unintended heatstroke tragedy. Maybe a poll is in order! ;) However, at this point I just hope that the complete results of all the tests with be revealed soon!
 
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katydid23

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I agree. I think it’s extremely likely that they chose to hike that trail.
I don’t know whether they underestimated the danger, or whether things went wrong in a way that disrupted their plans. We’ve had people on this thread explaining a multitude of ways that things could have gone wrong.

By the way, I think that LE’s waiting time before announcing their final assessment is evidence that they’re not taking the easy way out, of just choosing heat stroke because it’s the simple and obvious answer.
MOO
As to the bolded above, I think BOTH those things were true, sadly enough.

I think they underestimated the danger, which is understandable. The reviews of that hiking area make it sound difficult, but certainly not lethal. I don't think they took into account the recent fire damage, which took away all sources of shade, in which to rest and cool down.

And there seemed to be a recent spike in heAt on that particular few days.

On top of underestimating the danger, I think some things went wrong, which disrupted their original timeline, keeping them on the trail longer, making them more susceptible to the heat and causing a domino effect of maladies. JMO
 

katydid23

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Certain forms of fentanyl are not illegal/illicit. Powder form may be...analogs are.

I may not be recalling accurately: based on the recent LE release a couple of days ago and regarding what has and hasn't been ruled out, I also wonder about legal pesticides but ones used in this case not for insect control.

In my view, life is almost always not simple, but making your way through the complicated maze, one starts with the most "simple" known: the fact that a baby girl and another baby, a thick furred-one, were found dead...I cannot see a mother and father under normal circumstances taking them there. Yes, I'm one of the people who does not believe that accidental/innocent-occurring HS is COD. Moo. All Moo.
There are quite a few pictures of them hiking, along with their baby girl and their loyal fur baby. It was what they routinely did as a family.

So I am not at all surprised that they took them on that hike. I do wish they had done the hike alone first, just the 2 of them, just for safety's sake. But hindsight is 20/20. :(:(
 

5W's

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Hi, I'm new to WBS. I've been reading all the threads so far on the JG/EC tragedy. I tend to agree with those who have posted (so to speak) out of the box suggestions in other words not the obvious HS. I believe it may be a combination (including HS) of things that befell the family. Like others have posted about the footprints I wonder about that too. But what if a drone was used to harm he family. They were forced to do the trail by an unknown operator with malicious intent. In 2015 a Connetticutt teenager added a gun feature to his drone but LE became aware. There's a video on Youtube that shows this thing firing. I am not a tech saavy person nor am I interested in drones. However, the Russell Hill/Carol Clay mystery made me aware that drones can be used for recreation so then I started thinking about them anytime a news story came about drones. Apparently they can spray seeds from above. So why not an aresol. Can a drone also have technology to block cell phones. Obviously by the time they got to where SAR found them later their phone may have been damaged by the heat. I'm sure JG had the latest technology for his phone since his profession was such. I tend to agree that this family was delayed. They would have gone to their vehicle in the morning on Saturday like 9AM. This is all my opinion. Any thoughts?
 

HannahJJJ

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new here. messed up my posting. let me try again.
 
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HannahJJJ

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There are quite a few pictures of them hiking, along with their baby girl and their loyal fur baby. It was what they routinely did as a family.

So I am not at all surprised that they took them on that hike. I do wish they had done the hike alone first, just the 2 of them, just for safety's sake. But hindsight is 20/20. :(:(


i haven't seen quite a few pictures of them hiking with their baby girl. if they routinely did so, does anyone know what hikes they took the baby on prior to this one?
 

Parsnip

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Do you have a link to either of these comments by any chance? TIA.

Sure. Snipping if you hit a paywall.

“My thought initially was perhaps the car veered off the trail,” said Mr. Jeffe, who cut short a trip to Croatia when he learned that the bodies had been found. “People were going to go out and look.”
Family’s Death in Sierra National Forest Is Shrouded in Mystery

Sunday’s outing with the family dog, who was also found dead at the site, was supposed to be a day hike, Jeffe said.
https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article253572954.html



 

Pumphouse363

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Imo, she could have been dropped off at the trailhead, or she could have walked if the rental is close enough. JG would have had the car and the bulk of the belongings for the outing.

I brought up the atv point because it helps me reconcile SJ’s two seemingly contradictory comments, per MSM that he knew they were going on a hike; but later says he thought the car might have gone off the trail. This suggests to me that he considered the possibility that they may have tried to take the truck on the trail imo.
You make a good point about SJ - I can’t find anywhere in the media that he says he knew they were going hiking on that day. He is only speculating like the rest of us. At the time he was on holiday in Croatia.
Would you call a friend on the weekend to discuss a hike when you know they’re on hols? Wouldn’t you discuss it with your child’s nanny or rental manager as they are locals?
Our only evidence so far that they intended to do that hike is they were discovered on the SL trail, Jon accessed information relating to HC trail on Saturday, Ellen posted a pic of a backpack (that isn’t available online anymore), and a sighting of the vehicle travelling in the direction of the trail at 7.45am - yes it sounds simple.
But let’s suppose you knew the couple. Let’s suppose you had spoken to them the day before and they hadn’t mentioned going on a hike. Wouldn’t you think that odd?
And, since you know them very well, you also know they wouldn’t go anywhere without taking all the precautions everyone has mentioned in this debate? Yes - they might do it as a couple - but not with their daughter and dog. And what if you knew that Jon was actually over-cautious and very protective of his family? Wouldn’t that hike, in that heat seem very ambitious?

Yes, we are all fallible, and the events that have been used as examples of human error/dangers of nature are tragic and a cause for consideration in this case. But the similarities and our conceptions of those events are all based on what we’ve read in the media. We don’t know the people involved or what’s going on in their lives. The woman on the hike with her baby was with a group of others. If she’d tried it alone the outcome may have been much worse. The family who took their children to the beach didn’t take buckets and spades - it was known to be dangerous and they made that choice anyway. A very sad and tragic choice - but they were not Jon and Ellen.
I’m asking these questions of those more experienced hikers/walkers on here who say they’ve taken their families to ostensibly dangerous places. Do you think the alleged hike taken by Jon and Ellen is a poor decision - not apportioning blame to them - but is it something you would do given the same set of circumstances?
 

Pumphouse363

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Sure. Snipping if you hit a paywall.

“My thought initially was perhaps the car veered off the trail,” said Mr. Jeffe, who cut short a trip to Croatia when he learned that the bodies had been found. “People were going to go out and look.”
Family’s Death in Sierra National Forest Is Shrouded in Mystery

Sunday’s outing with the family dog, who was also found dead at the site, was supposed to be a day hike, Jeffe said.
https://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/article253572954.html


SJ says ‘You have to figure it was a day hike’ - that suggests to me he didn’t know, he was just surmising.
 

Pumphouse363

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I think most people can’t believe heatstroke was the COD because they can’t wrap their heads around the fact that this couple did this hike in the first place. But that is because those folks are not putting themselves in the Gerrishes shoes. My question to all the HS doubters is this - can you comprehend why certain people skydive, snowcamp, climb Mt Everest, tight rope walk between 2 skyscrapers in NYC etc? Or does that seem ‘crazy - no one would do that’ type of thing? MOO
We can’t put ourselves in the Gerrish’s shoes because we don’t know them. Yes there are people who undertake many dangerous, exhilarating activities - they don’t usually do it with babies and dogs. And if we did know them we might be very surprised they would do something so out-of-character.
 

Pumphouse363

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I have addressed that. They left about 8am, it's about 3 miles down the Hites Cove Trail to the river. Going downhill is fast and easy, and that's actually a 4WD road, so I think they could have gotten to the bottom in about an hour. 3 mph is a reasonable pace in those conditions. It wasn't that hot at 9 am. There are trees along the river, so the next leg would have some shade. It's the last leg up the SLT that is the killer. I agree, like those women who turned back on the SLT, I would have realized "this is not a good idea", and turned back. Once you are at the bottom, you are stuck with that climb out. Again, maybe I'd start up the climb, either one, and realize "it's too hot, this is a very bad idea", and retreat to the river. Downstream, lots of people were frolicking in the river without harm, I'd do the same, keep the whole family cool. I'd be reluctant to drink the river water, but if you are out, you have no choice. Just pick the cleanest you can find. I'd wait as long as necessary for it too cool off enough to climb out, and I'd fill that camelback with river water. But they didn't do those things, and unless they recorded it on the phone we'll never know for sure why they pushed on up the SLT in the heat with insufficient water. My theory is they feared the toxic algae in the river and were running out of safe water in the camelback. The baby was suffering in the heat. They decide they have no choice but to get back to the safety of their truck which is only 3 miles away. Strong hikers in cool weather could do it in an hour. I'm not sure what difficulty you have with HS. One of those recent Death Valley HS deaths was on a fairly flat trail in 106F temperatures, and he wasn't carrying a baby. MOO.
This is a brilliant explanation and totally plausible except - this was not a popular place at this time of year. We don’t know if there were any people frolicking in the river - and if there were people there they could probably attest they’d seen Jon, Ellen, Miju and Oski doing the same. As far as I’m aware there wasn’t anyone who saw them anywhere on that hike. MOO
 

IceIce9

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If we had a poll I would vote heat stroke.

I have hiked many desert trails over the years, and I know that heat exhaustion can occur very suddenly, and once it sets in it can affect decision making. Heat stroke can soon follow.

A hike seems very doable in cooler morning temperatures but the situation can quickly go bad when the temperature spikes, especially when you have an uphill climb.

Years ago on one of my desert hikes I made some bad decisions when I became overheated. I couldn’t figure out if I should go backward which was a longer distance or keep going forward, which was shorter in distance but uphill. I didn’t want to drink the last of my water because I thought I should save it because I still had so far to go. At one point I thought I could see shade off the trail when there was none. I reasoned if I closed my eyes and rested for a few minutes I would have the strength to continue hiking.

I managed to hike two more miles that day and made my way out, but a couple other hikers in the area had to be rescued.

I understand how quickly and unexpectedly heat can overtake even experienced hikers, and it affects decision making.

Incidentally, on my most recent desert hike my companion and I passed two different couples who were hiking with babies, on a very strenuous, mostly uphill trail, in the mid day heat.
 
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