CA - Jonathan Gerrish, Ellen Chung, daughter, 1 & dog, suspicious death hiking area, Aug 2021 #6

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

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  1. Karuna

    Karuna Verified Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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    Agree with this. I'm a parent of young children and have done a fair amount of backpacking before kids and tame hiking since (even worked as a lifeguard for several summers growing up) and I really had NO meaningful understanding of heatstroke before this story. Humbling. And so tragic for them.

    @Pumphouse363 I'm so sorry for your loss. I look forward to your perspective on what happened if you come to a point of feeling able to share it.

    I didn't know this family, but I have overlap professionally with EC and colleagues who knew her. This is what originally made me aware of the story. More emotionally powerful though, as a parent with young children and an interest in the outdoors, I identify with them. This story will stay with me for a log time, if not forever.

    Also want to echo others, the high caliber of conversation and thoughtful dialogue here around their story is really refreshing and, frankly, therapeutic, given the current anti-dialogue climate we live in. Thank you all.
     


  2. MrsEmmaPeel

    MrsEmmaPeel Well-Known Member

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    I just had this conversation with another mother. We both said if the baby seemed unresponsive we would rush to aid, ie car, cell service. Our instincts were not to rush to the river because we didnt know, werent trained to recognize or treat heat stroke. I cannot ever judge another parent after the things my husband and I did, unwittingly, as I believe the GCs did as well. Unwittingly.
     
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  3. Curious_in_NC

    Curious_in_NC Well-Known Member

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    rsbm
    Wow. Thanks for this info. onX is far more sophisticated than AllTrails. No wonder JG switched to using it instead, especially for the trails in his area. We obviously made a lot of poor assumptions early on based on his prior public accessible history at AllTrails. I've been playing with the browser/free trial version of onX because my phone is too ancient to run their current app. FWIW onX seems to have several versions: hunting, OHV, and trails/hiking. Your comments about it seem spot on. MOO.
     
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  4. Lilibet

    Lilibet Well-Known Member

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    @MrsEmmaPeel, I so appreciate your humility and honesty in sharing your unwitting errors in judgement and lack of knowledge in situations with your kids. My husband and I took our 2.5 year old daughter on a backpacking trip to the North Cascades in WA in 1973. She walked (with a harness and rope “leash”) and was only carried briefly, poor kid. We coaxed her along with trail mix. Thankfully, it was cool, but there were plenty of opportunities for disaster. I look back now and say “What were we thinking?!” I expect that if the GCs had survived this hike, they would have had the same thought, perhaps later and with the benefit of hindsight. Your family, mine and the CGs aren’t awful people who were guilty of deliberate and calculated child abuse, as we see here on WS. We had a plan and a goal that was more than we should have bitten off. I honestly don’t know at what point we would have aborted our trip. And I knew nothing about heat stroke. We were total amateurs despite all my research. A little knowledge can be dangerous if you don’t know what you don’t know. So I won’t judge either. I just feel so very sad for them and for their friends like @Pumphouse363 and their family.
    JMO
     
  5. Marysmith

    Marysmith Well-Known Member

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    Awww.
    I remember this hike we took as kids with our parents and we were holding onto ropes on a cliff on this small ledge for some of it. It was in Montana and terrifying. My mother told me recently she was terrified but didn’t know the hike was like that and just tried to stay cool and get us past because we couldn’t turn back at that point either.
     
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  6. Lex Parsimoniae

    Lex Parsimoniae Well-Known Member

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    RSBM Yes. There have been a lot of comments along the lines of "why didn't they run to the car?" That may have been exactly their thought, "We must get to the car!" It was the wrong choice, bad judgment, but apparently a common response. "It was a grievous fault,. And grievously hath G-C answered it." I feel no anger toward them, yes they made inexplicable mistakes and failed in their duty to protect their child and dog, but they too died horribly. As I previously mentioned, ~40 yrs ago I was hiking and backpacking with my wife, baby, and dog. I asked my wife if she would have gone along with it if I planned something like this G-C hike. (She's been my co-leader on the hundreds of hikes and other outings such as camping/hiking, backpacking, kayaking, kayak camping, etc that we've organized for our hiking club.) She said "Maybe when we were first married." That surprised me.
     
  7. Karuna

    Karuna Verified Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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    Mental illness doesn't come to mind for me here. I think, having more than one person can either be an asset or a liability. It's likely to be an asset if each party can be a check on the other which I suspect is more likely for people who don't know each other as well, like the blogger hiking with the woman with her dog, who turned back.

    In this case, they may have shared certain perspectives that made it hard to be a check on each other. There's also the problem of the diffusion of responsibility and the bystander effect (social psychology phenomena) which may have been a liability, where people are less likely to take certain actions when around others because we think someone else will act (see the case of Kitty Genovese).

    Maybe the GCs were in a kind of group think with each other that made it hard to think outside the box and maybe the presence of each other muted their sense of unease early on. Trust in each other and the belief that they would look out for and protect each other (ordinarily positive things in a coupleship) may also have muted any dissenting thoughts or assessments (ie the belief "my partner wouldn't do anything to put me/us in danger"). I imagine @Lex Parsimoniae these factors might be part of why your wife might have agreed to join you in a similar situation.

    Of course at some advanced point it seems their thinking would also have been compromised by their situation as well. And as has been said before, by myself included, as things became dire the safe option (river) was probably missed due to the overpowering instinctual drive to get out of there with a baby.

    I do wonder, not only about their experience with hiking and heat, but also babies/kids. I babysat for two decades before becoming a parent and my spouse had no experience with babies. The difference in our exposure, when we were new parents, was very tangible.
     
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  8. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    @Lex Parsimoniae

    Let's assume both of you decided to take this hike at that time.
    I'll pose the same question to you as I did with @MrsEmmaPeel:
    Under the same circumstances.... 40 years ago with wife, baby and dog..... would you or your wife have considered a 180 at some point? We know getting back to the car became an urgency, that isn't in question. They obviously had that urge by the time they reached SL or prior.
    The question I ask here is would you have made a decision to get back to the car when it was actually probable. The "Safe Rather than Sorry" mindset. This isn't a matter of blame. As you pointed out it was tragic ...MIND BLOWING tragic. I'm just trying to understand the MIND SET that drove JG ...a very intelligent person with some hiking experience......to pursue going down this rabbit hole with the fate of his family in his hands. MOO
     
  9. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    MOO>> Common sense would tell me only ONE made the choices and the other deferred. MOO
     
  10. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    IMO the problem wasn't out there while they were hiking. It was already too late by then. The die had been cast. IMO The problem was in the preparation. For all the mea culpas upthread about personal family experiences, there were just so many in this case, from both victims. For me, I absolutely cannot fathom the clothing choices or the water or the missing dog bowl. And have we resolved the question of whether EC was carrying her own pack? If no, I can't fathom that either. These choices were not for ANY hike. These items were independent of any decision to turn back once they were on the trail. In those conditions, they were headed into catastrophe the moment they arrived at the trailhead and stepped on the trail. The decision not to turn back was merely the last in a series of fatal choices. Just my opinion.
    IMO they assumed they had "experience". Doing a bunch of hikes or prior hikes is not "experience": it's fitness. But safe hiking is a lot more than fitness.
    Cf. This issue also came up in the Dingley case. She was very fit, but erroneously described as "experienced" by close associates. Per LE, she was an example of "inexperience". This was true in terms of where she hiked, when she hiked, and because of her gear/apparel. Textbook about how dangerous the conflation between fitness and "experience" can be. Different setting than this one hear, but same collocation of errors and assumptions.
     
  11. neesaki

    neesaki Well-Known Member

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    But JG was 45 y/o wasn’t he? That’s not what I consider younger, but middle aged. Avid hiker, Smart, educated man to boot. I have little doubt he new what he was doing. Jmo
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
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  12. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Maybe this is not intentional, but I am getting a whiff of sexism in the general drift in the conversation here that he made the decisions and she went along with them. On the contrary, IMO, she made decisions that contributed strongly to the catastrophe. Her choice of apparel was deathly IMO (it was going to disable her in no time)m which LE felt was significant enough to highlight. She made a choice not to carry water (we have no indication that she was carrying a pack; and we know neither of them chose to carry sufficient water). I still wonder if they all didn't have sunstroke before they had heat stroke.
    At any rate, the indication is clear that they were both party to this event.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
  13. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    BBM
    Yes, but that decision would have saved them. Lack of preparation put them in dire jeopardy, but the failure to re-access and remain flexible was the nail in the coffin. Ignorance and lack of preparation is one thing, but an intelligent person sensitive to the needs of an infant and pet should have been a *safety * net precluding any disaster. Were talking basic survival instincts. You're ALONE...ISOLATED.. NO Cell...on a steep mountain trail with a child and infant. Yet, the decision to forge on negated any thoughts of *Safe Rather than Sorry*
     
  14. Karuna

    Karuna Verified Licensed Clinical Psychologist

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    RSBM. In the presser an audience member asked about anything else with them after the clohing, bladder, and baby carrier were accounted for and Sheriff Briese said no, there was not anything else. Eta, therefore EC didn't have a pack.
     
  15. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    Not a matter of sexism. Just want to make this abundantly clear. It was JG that had logged in many hikes and searches on line.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2021
  16. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    I’m sorry, but I absolutely cannot fathom this decision not to carry her own pack. When it comes down to it, you’re responsible for yourself. You’re also responsible for your dependents.
     
  17. jonjon747

    jonjon747 Well-Known Member

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    Oh well,
    LE claims now that JG had used his app to map out the loop of the trail route which was the final key to the puzzle helping to solve and end this case as hyperthermia and dehydration.

    Then they should at least show some respect to the deceased and release all the details they know now especially in regards to the app usage data. How difficult could it be?

    The deceased's close family want it private and kept it confidential? do you have a source of information regards to this?

    LE don't mention anything about JG's app usage. What was the name of the app, how the key data was retrieved or collected?

    They also stated that FBI is still scanning and analyzing his phone trying to find something new? lol

    What are they doing with his phone is really beyond anyone's guess.

    FBI must find his phone fascinating because he was an ex-google android team.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2021
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  18. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    Agree. But this tells you something>>>She was reliant on JG to "take care of things"??? MOO
     
  19. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    I went on a hike today and took my doggie. I carefully watched how much water the doggie needed. It was 65 degrees. We hiked approximately 5 miles in 3 hours. The hike would be rated easy, and was on old carriage roads. Wide, flat, tread.
    Since we were on a volunteer gig for NPS (he’s a “Bark Ranger” lol), we stopped every 3 minutes or so to greet visitors (155 in all). So, it wasn’t like we were racing around.
    My doggie weighs 25 lbs.
    He needed water in 20 minutes. When a dog laps water on a hike, it tends to get splashy and gets dirt in it. He might even tip over the bowl, so you lose some. In other words, you’ve got to take a lot of extra water. Cool water works best. I put it in the fridge overnight and have a “cozy” on the bottle.
    He probably went through a total of 2/3 liter on the hike, and another 1\3 when we got to the car. He gulped it.
    65 degrees. 25 pounds. Nothing strenuous.
    Poor Oski.
     
  20. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    Brought tears...I'm a dog lover
     

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