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. 5W's

    5W's Well-Known Member

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    By the way this post stems from #644 in thread 6 if anyone may be interested in the actual discussion.
    I tried looking for the exact date of when the area was reopened. At the time when the closure started it was to remain closed until September 17, 2021. I thought it was extended, my apologies if it was not. I wish I could find what the amount in the Merced river was and if the algae mats were a high amount or not. Maybe someone who is has more knowledge about this could post. Regardless finding the correct composition or not Dose is important. I was reading a SFGATE article that was talking about this family's hike and I found a part of the article interesting where it mentions the following:

    Douglas Zimmerman/SFGATE
    “Even if you had extreme confidence that they had been poisoned, finding evidence of that poisoning will be very challenging,” he says. “But it still boils down to: What was the dose they received? If it was a really high dose, there might still be enough left to confidently identify it.”

    "Late in the Cold War, the Central Intelligence Agency was using anatoxin in suicide pills for agents who fell into enemy hands. The compound is also referred to as Very Fast Death Factor.

    And yet, there are no reported human deaths from toxic algae. This is largely due to the fact that adults do not often swallow large amounts of polluted water. Anatoxin also breaks down fairly quickly and easily; it doesn’t stay in tissues very long, according to Weiss. For that reason, he says, he’ll be surprised if anatoxins show up in the toxicology reports for Gerrish and Chung."


    I guess if it acted so fast then obviously its the dose, which in the article it discusses a little about the amount.

    And yes at the time it was a crime scene so LE had to close the area to investigate. I also wonder if on hotter days such as the day this family was there I wonder if the toxin's were higher then when LE began their investigation. IMO the answer to this would probably be yes because for this toxin the higher the temperature the more it thrives. So my response to your post remains the same as the day you and your dog were out in that body of water with others including children and dogs it could be the level of the Anatoxin A was lower than what would have made dogs seriously ill. I take back my saying Oski would have died drinking the water although it is possible depending on the amount the poor dog may have ingested and the level of the toxin that day. So the two scenes yours on a pleasant day compared to this nightmare are completely different. (I hope I have posted correctly if not sorry I may try again.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
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  2. 5W's

    5W's Well-Known Member

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    BBM Actually that is not advised recently in a hiking area close to where I live a person got lost and SAR was trying to call the lost hiker with no luck. as it kept going to voicemail. The management team of our local SAR made a public statement advising against this. Luckily this lost hiker was rescued only by chance however. All of your other points are great.
     
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  3. 5W's

    5W's Well-Known Member

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    Its like they already knew so much about this hike before they started, but they left out safety?
     
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  4. HannahJJJ

    HannahJJJ Well-Known Member

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    Excellent post.
     
  5. 5W's

    5W's Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for bringing this up about
    Ultrarunner Michael Popov, however this ultrarunner's body was trained to do these extreme events while no where has it been suggested that JG/EC were trained for that hike or something similar IMO JG/EC were recreational enthusiasts who needed support doing what the average person would call an adventure. Michael Popov on the other hand was a sportsman who trained for these kinds of conditions. He also had about 2 litres of ice water (the article says 4 bottles) with himself of course not enough but enough to have made him complete the 10 mile run but die in Death Valley in 129 degrees heat. The average person such as the French family with the son that survived and the parents who perished in the New Mexico desert shortly after arriving in that environment. Plus Michael knew the risks he was undertaking the French family were tourists who didn't realize the gravity of the situation they were about to enter.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
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  6. 5W's

    5W's Well-Known Member

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    Interesting question I don't know but there are so many questions in this case that even if the people in this case were from different socio economic or race it would leave us baffled. That's my opinion only, though. The reason I say that is because during cooler temperatures this area is well used so I
    think it would get the attention.
     
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  7. everybodhi

    everybodhi Well-Known Member

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    Add highly educated to the list
     
  8. IceIce9

    IceIce9 Verified EMT

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    Interesting points. I have thought about this as well.

    Several years ago in the city where I live a young child died while riding a power wheels jeep. If you aren’t familiar with power wheels, they have a battery and kids drive them at probably 2-3 mph.

    This child was riding the jeep while unattended, in the basement of a 6,000 square foot home in a very nice suburb. The parents were upstairs. The child rode the Jeep under a table and got his neck caught between a chair and table leg. Since he was unattended he suffered asphyxiation and died before his parents came down to check on him.

    No charges were filed, immediately it was announced that is was a tragic accident. The investigator even stated, “It is a beautiful home and just a tragic accident.”

    A clip of the investigator making that statement was widely broadcast on all our local news channels. Every time I saw it I wondered how different things would have been if it had happened to an unattended child in a less than “beautiful” home.
     
  9. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Wow, what great questions. We have some of the same questions generally with missing people when it comes to race, and not just in the backcountry.
    My problem with it as a backcountry issue, though, is that there are statistically few backcountry users who are POC, excepting Asian Americans. So, I think it would be difficult to dredge up evidence.
    On the flip side, our prejudices might drift in favor of reading/hearing about backcountry accidents simply because users are majority Caucasian. I would say, majority middle income and up, too.

    Personally, I think it’s alarming how Caucasian our backcountry spaces are. Since federal and state wild areas belong to “everyone”, I wish we’d have a bigger variety of “everyone” enjoying our trails.

    PS I don’t know National Park demographic statistics for front country activities, but there might be more diversity there.

    PS These are awkward topics for me to talk about, but very important IMO. If my words offend anyone, please PM me, so I can adjust or remove.
     
  10. Jade

    Jade Well-Known Member

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    I’m not sure there has been universal sympathy but WS being victim friendly light admonishments of the couple is as far as it goes.

    IMO, the beautiful family is not just physical appearance but in spirit also. It’s a recognition of the results of their hard work that brought them the achievement to have such a life, a happy family life, with dog, in a special area doing family things and for it all to go so wrong.

    It’s not so much the interest because of what they were it is because of what they were and why didn’t they know better or react better given their education and status, imo.


    To me it’s just another example of how the West Coast can eat you up and spit you out.

    It’s like a big, pretty, fluffy, friendly dog that bites.

    That comes a shock to those of us who have adored it from afar.



    All imo
     
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  11. NSamuelle

    NSamuelle Well-Known Member

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    There is precedent for being charged with animal cruelty when a dog dies of heat exhaustion on a hike. It happened in 2017. The dog died, and the humans were suffering as well but were rescued in time. I’m not sure it would’ve been charged in this case, had the parents survived, but there are “bad facts” in the EC/JG tragedy: little water, no bowl, and areas with no river water access, plus extreme heat that kills even with enough water, and relatively advanced age in a thick-coated dog. Woman cited for animal cruelty after dog dies on Scottsdale hike | 12news.com

    From 2017 case:
    “It's too hot to breathe almost," said Scottsdale dog owner Sean Rawlings. "It sounds like someone doesn't have any common sense."

    Scott Hamilton [is] the planner for the City of Scottsdale's McDowell Sonoran Preserve, which is home to the Lost Dog Wash Trail. He said the area can be difficult.

    "The Lost Dog Wash trail is typical of (the) preserve. It's mountainous, rocky and there's very little shade," Scott Hamilton told 12 News.”
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
  12. MrsEmmaPeel

    MrsEmmaPeel Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely. The Gerrish Chung's status buys our disbelief. I believe that's why we're still hashing this out. Well said, @ItalyReader.
     
  13. Rocky Mountain Hi

    Rocky Mountain Hi Well-Known Member

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    Police have tracked down single parents of children walking to neighborhood parks alone, or playing in neighborhood parks unattended, and arrested them. So that may be the answer to your question. School-aged kids walking to and spending time in the local park unattended by an adult used to be normal (and legal), and still is for kids of certain socio-economic brackets.
     
  14. Rocky Mountain Hi

    Rocky Mountain Hi Well-Known Member

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    Why didn't they turn around? JG may have been one of those people, like the blogger who wrote about the Hite's Cove trail hike with a friend and her dog, who don't quit on hikes they've started, as a matter of pride.

    Why did he choose one of the hottest, if not THE hottest, weekend in August? Well, according to their friends, the G-C's had hiked every weekend that summer, which would include the prior 2 weekends that month. I find that hard to believe, unless they didn't take the dog and child on the earlier Aug. hikes, but even so, they'd have had experience with overheating, no matter how much water they'd brought with them.

    There are lots of questions with this case, that will never be answered, only leaving us guessing. Why didn't they turn around? Why did they do the hike in the first place? Didn't they know the dog and baby couldn't handle the heat? What were they thinking?! We'll never know, unless one or more of their friends is forthcoming with info (after they get over grieving their loss), or the FBI releases info gathered from the phone (if there is any).
     
  15. pandaknows

    pandaknows Justice for Jennifer

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    Yes, this rings a bell. My husband, who does not follow this case but after listening to my broad contours, immediately made the connection to accidental over-exertion while playing school sports. My husband was a trophy-winning high school wrestler. He remembered other kids trying to lose weight (to fit in a weight class). Whether urged by coaches or not, some kids run around the track during a hot day to lose a pound or two. By sweating all the water, you can lose a pound in a day. I think a lot of people try this. Not saying this is what happened here. But I caught some early IG pictures and thought maybe JG carried more weight occasionally but those pics are not viewable anymore. Also, I thought I saw EC with a backpack on another trip. It was big and packed very full, for her size. Perhaps on one of exotic guided tours. Maybe the point was that JG would carry a lot of weight so that he would lose some. All speculation. MOO.
     
  16. ItalyReader

    ItalyReader Well-Known Member

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    Whether a family is beautiful or not, inside or outside, should not be a factor in whether they are placed on a pedestal on the one hand or condemned on the other.

    Unsuccessful or unattractive families should be mourned and forgiven just as attractive and successful families are. Right?
     
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  17. IceIce9

    IceIce9 Verified EMT

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    I made a similar comment on a thread for a missing woman. So many were saying, “She’s stunning- hope she is found soon” or, “She’s so attractive, how sad!”

    It is true that less attractive individuals often receive less attention….
     
  18. MrsEmmaPeel

    MrsEmmaPeel Well-Known Member

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    @ItalyReader and @RickshawFan: regarding mishaps in national forests, etc. and the allure of "attractive" victims. . . when I see TV footage of a missing child who wanders off and is lost in the woods, I usually feel judgemental of the family. It's a thing that seems to happen to poorer families, I'll think, even though that's not true. Or families who are careless or have something to hide. Bad families. So it's not hiking, but it is misadventure outdoors, that seems to have a stigma.

    Sadly, in the US, death is something we sometimes blame on the dying. They didn't fight hard enough, didn't struggle enough, didn't turn around and head back up the trail. They were foolish. They gave in to cancer. They didn't eat right or exercise enough. But in the end, we all die. That's the kicker.
     
  19. Rocky Mountain Hi

    Rocky Mountain Hi Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if it's unique to US culture, but victim-blaming is disturbingly common. Even trained therapists will immediately ask the victim of a rape or harassment or stalking, "what did you do" [to cause that, or to garner the guy's attention]? Needless to say, this is counterproductive to therapy, and denies the reality, that there are creeps out there who are chronic offenders on one level or another. Random stuff does happen, altering the trajectory of a life, or of a day, an outing.

    Having said that, I confess to wondering if JG was hooked on "collecting" hikes, after I saw his All-Trails log, and may have had a tendency to tempt fate. Maybe the posters are onto something, who think the parents had originally planned to hike only the HC trail that day, but due to unforeseen circumstances, ended up on the SL trail on the return. That, at least, would resolve the victim-blaming tendency.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
  20. ItalyReader

    ItalyReader Well-Known Member

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    Reposting as this was deleted due to being a response to a deleted post.

    I agree 100% about this case being tragic and I absolutely empathize with the family.

    At the very same time, I ask myself:

    how would this story be viewed if:

    - this family had been physically unattractive

    - this family had been in a very low economic threshold

    - the family looked different?

    - the parents had survived but baby and dog perished

    - or any combination of the above?


    I have read a lot of comments here about “what a beautiful family” they were and lots of mention of their high economic status, I just don’t know if their beauty or privilege should excuse tragic mistakes.


    also I think about how ignorance of the law is no excuse.


    Asking in a different way, if the parents had survived but baby died, and if they were of
    a different “look” OR economic OR attractiveness OR education category, would this story be viewed with as much sympathy?

    Would the surviving parents face any consequences, legal or otherwise, for the death of their child?


    If they had had 2 children, and one died and the other survived, would the surviving child be placed in protective child services custody while the parents were investigated?

    In some families this would be the case - the children would be taken from the parents. Ask a social worker; they are experts here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2021
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