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

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by dalsglen, Aug 18, 2021.

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  1. Bekind89

    Bekind89 Well-Known Member

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    Quote: "I also don't think they blithely underestimated the hike or simply thought they could do the loop in spite of the heat, but I do think they didn't assess the grave risk of something going wrong on their easy planned hike in such severe conditions.

    A similar thought for me in a comparably risky situation might be. "
    I think this is the answer as to how this could happen. As Auntie has said, we will never what happened that day to keep them out there too long, but I truly feel something did. I have never believed they planned to be out there hiking in the heat that long. The amount of water they carried that day tells us that. Jmo
     
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  2. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    Possible....I do think EC was trying to forge ahead with JG and infant still alive. I would think IF she made it to the truck, she would have tried to GET HELP rather than hike back down. It's 1 1/2 miles back down. I guess it depends on WHAT they had in the truck that could save them? If she was found facing UP the trail, that could indicate she was still going UP not down. MOO
     
  3. Parsnip

    Parsnip Well-Known Member

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    Idk, @rahod1 . I think the scene could be interpreted a number of ways. Was she headed up? Was she headed back down the switchbacks? What did she have with her?

    But if there were some nefarious influence, including some sort of confrontation, I would expect defensive wounds on one or both of the adults, assuming they/he/she understood the implications of the confrontation. Again, moo. Given what has been shared, accident seems most likely to me. Moo.
     
  4. wary

    wary Well-Known Member

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    MOO

    That the steep uphill climb back to their car made retreat impossible, once they were weakened by the heat?

    That, for obvious reasons, there were no other people on the trail to help them?

    And we know that using their phone to call for help was impossible.

    MOO
     
  5. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, they were essentially trapped in the inferno. Beyond the point of no return. MOO
     
  6. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    IMO their experience was more on guided trips. They might not have known to take more water. A more telling indication might be dirty diapers.
    There’s no information that she was carrying a pack. IIRC
    My basic opinion is they didn’t plan on the whole loop, but improvised when they got to the river. They had to improvise IMO because they didn’t have a map.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
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  7. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    They couldn’t have completed the hike before it got too hot. It was too hot within an hour or so.
     
  8. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    That’s my experience hiking in the NE as well. After being in the PNW for years, I’m shocked how little hikers take, no room for a jacket or 10 essentials, water, lunch.. Wearing jeans, floppy sneakers, singlets for mountain hikes. In the White Mountains, with their brutal weather and sudden storms.
    And don’t even get me started on “ultralighters” who overnight and depend on everyone else to do the heavy lifting when they show up without the necessaries. They depend on everyone else to supply them with things they didn’t want to bring, move over in shelters or yield their spots, because the “ultralighters” don’t want to weigh themselves down with even a rudimentary tarp tent. I find this very selfish.
    All of these folks put SAR at risk. IME.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
  9. HannahJJJ

    HannahJJJ Well-Known Member

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    Usually best buddies, the woman's close girlfriends, family will make statements. Nothing except a couple of statements from RH and SJ, also a female real estate agent, none of whom appear to be close friends. It is all so "quiet". Moo, all Moo.
     
  10. IceIce9

    IceIce9 Verified EMT

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    It’s possible they intended to complete a shorter hike, and for some reason (missed a trail marker for the shorter trail?) ended up on a much longer hike. Without a map they wouldn’t be able to determine whether it would be better to keep going forward or turn around and retrace their steps, after realizing they were on the wrong trail.

    Missing a trail sign happens often, most hikers have experienced it. But usually the conditions aren’t so brutal that it becomes a deadly mistake.
     
  11. Pumphouse363

    Pumphouse363 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for sharing this experience. My only question is, ‘would you have taken a 12 month old baby and a dog?’
     
  12. MrsEmmaPeel

    MrsEmmaPeel Well-Known Member

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    This quietness may be the effect of several factors. Jon's family is British. They are far more reticent, in my experience, than middle class Americans. (Witness Gabby's family holding press conferences sporting matching tattoos.) Not to mention Jon's family has been kept away by covid restrictions.
    Ellen's family is Asian. Similar cultural differences. IMO, these two cultures are more circumspect, less attention-seeking.
    Then we have the area. This is not Marin County or Santa Barbara. This is akin to Appalachia or the Salton Sea, imo. There are the gentrifiers who come in and buy up property because it's "cheap," and there are the locals struggling to earn a living remodeling, cleaning those properties. It takes time -- years and years-- to build community. To build a network of like-minded friends. Often, this does not happen until a child goes to school. J and E chose a place that can be as isolated and remote as the desert.
    Finally, we have no idea what they struggled with as a couple, as new parents, as new residents of a rural, backward place. One may put a social media spin on it. A happy face. But that's not always how it is, inside.
     
  13. Pumphouse363

    Pumphouse363 Well-Known Member

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    MOO I understand what you’re saying but I wonder if I’m correct in my thinking here…
    The vehicle was seen heading towards the trailhead at 7.45am on Sunday morning. If they headed towards Hites Cove from the point where their vehicle was discovered, they would possibly reach Marble Point (just over a mile away) after 25 minutes or so? According to the nearest weather centre the temperature at 7.51am was 77F By 8.51am it had risen to 85F and continued to rise to a high of 109F at 2.51pm.
    Surely they would still have time to hike back up to their car at Marble Point having realised the heat was only going to increase and they’d have an even bigger hike back up if they continued?
    Wouldn’t the dog and the baby have shown signs of heat distress long before they got down to the river? Marble Point is a great vantage point to view the surroundings and consider options. I’m trying to understand this from their POV but the fact there is a dog and a baby to consider is beyond my comprehension. The choice of this hike, on this day, under those conditions makes absolutely no sense.
    Sorry to continue to labour the point. I really do appreciate all the comments and ideas submitted by everyone and hope we all get some answers we can accept very soon.
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2021
  14. lotus777

    lotus777 Well-Known Member

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    Right (sadly), and it would also explain why the baby was in the carrier (which has been perplexing to some).
     
  15. IceIce9

    IceIce9 Verified EMT

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    Unpopular opinion here: I often see people taking young babies on hikes and I don’t see the point. I can understand taking toddlers, but young babies usually don’t look like they are getting anything out of the experience. Except perhaps a sunburn. MOO

    And I often see dogs on hikes that look miserable when it is too hot. People should consider that dogs pads can get injured on hot sand, dirt, or path. If it is too hot for you to go barefoot it is too uncomfortable for your dog. MOO
     
  16. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

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    Still no news :(
     
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  17. IceIce9

    IceIce9 Verified EMT

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    If the baby was dead (awful to type that) I would think the parents would place her in the carrier rather than on the ground.
     
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  18. Karuna

    Karuna Verified Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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    RSBM @Pumphouse I think you have to account for the fact that having a baby slows everything down. So it could have been quite a bit later than you're suggesting when they got started and thus to Marble point. Also, what others have suggested about something unexpected occurring could have slowed them down too. Even something like a blister or an old injury (bum knee) affecting walking speed, etc.

    Regarding the baby still being in the pack. Agree with others about her safety and JG's possible/likely (moo) being disabled - but also she was a year old and could certainly crawl, if not walk, and keeping her in the carrier could very well have been for her own safety too.

    I, too, struggle with how they decided to do that hike, on that day, with those dependents. Although, I don't think I would ever have done any portion of it, myself, I keep coming back to the possibility that they intended something shorter and something derailed things (like the possibilities, for example, detailed by @Auntie Cipation). Also, even though I wouldn't have taken that hike with my kids (or by myself for that matter, not a fan of even less extreme heat for hiking), I will say this case and this thread has opened my eyes to HS risks. I've backpacked a fair amount (Kauai, New Zealand, Canada, Colorado, Washington, California) and there are still things I don't know. Of course there are. And that's true for parenting too. I've definitely been humbled as a hiker and a parent, especially with my second kid, realizing things I did with my first kid that I know better about now. I'm saying that to say, if they had a blindspot in judgment and they intended something shorter and they encountered something unexpected it seems completely reasonable the cascade of events lead to their tragic deaths. I know we can't fathom them taking their dependents out under those conditions, but what if they really intended to be back shortly and just had a human moment of underestimating the heat and how quickly it could disable them? We don't want to believe this, I think, because it exposes all our humanity, fallibility, and fragility. It asks us to sit with the discomfort of randomness and the tragedy of preventable mistakes.
     
  19. Karuna

    Karuna Verified Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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    Not sure the rules about quoting social media, so won't quote directly, but has anyone ventured over to the Mariposa County Sheriff's Facebook page? They had a press release about the case on September 30th. In reading the comments, I noticed one poster, in particular, "Chuck Stone" who claims to be a former CALFIRE captain and suffered HS with his dogs and wife on the Savage-Lundy in similar extreme heat and almost died. He posted a few times in response to others, if you're interested in reading his comments. If you take him as credible, (IMO) it makes accidental HS seem very plausible given EC/JG's situation and various factors. And also interesting that an experienced CALFIRE captain could find themselves similarly caught off guard and vulnerable. ETA: tried to link the FB page, but couldn't.
     
  20. Pumphouse363

    Pumphouse363 Well-Known Member

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    IKWYM and I agree that dogs and children should be better protected from extreme heat. But I Think it’s great for parents to get their child familiar with the outdoors as much as possible and as young as possible - within reason. Miju was 12 months old, used to the outdoors (local residents say they often saw Jon out and about with her) and she was able to walk. Obviously her walking abilities would be minimal but she could still toddle off if allowed. I think she would have enjoyed outdoor experiences with her parents - but not in the heat of that particular weekend. MOO
     
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