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

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

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  1. CAsleuth

    CAsleuth Member

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    I’m thinking combination of taking dip in contaminated water and falling ill (feeling ill, throwing up, confusion) with extreme heat may have did it.

    But if the report that they were well prepared means their water bottles were all full…that wouldn’t support this theory as you’d think they’d go through all their water throwing up etc.

    Baffling, hope their is a quick resolution for the family’s sake.

     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2021


  2. Sunny Day

    Sunny Day Well-Known Member

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    Has there been any discussion about their financial situation? I read that they had recently purchased 2 homes. I believe one was a rental property.
     
  3. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Did LE say it couldn't be lightning?
     
  4. RickshawFan

    RickshawFan Verified Outdoor Recreation Specialist

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    Regarding the trajectory of the hike, it seems we're all assuming the family met death on the way back to their car. What if they were outbound, just starting their hike and walking AWAY from their car?
    If the family was returning to their car, they should have had almost no water left in their water bottles. If outbound, the bottles would be near full.
    If LE is saying the family was well-prepared for a day hike, maybe the statement reflects that they had sufficient water. That would put them outbound from their car, not inbound towards it.
     
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  5. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

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    Why is the California DOJ assisting? 'Just for additional resources to help investigate the deaths or ??
     
  6. CAsleuth

    CAsleuth Member

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    If out bound and hadn’t even reached potentially toxic water that removes that possibility from play. Without that, not sure where else to go but darker.

     
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  7. happyday

    happyday Well-Known Member

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    I don’t know if they’ve addressed lightning specifically, but no signs of trauma. Wouldn’t lightning leave burns etc? I really don’t know.
     
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  8. happyday

    happyday Well-Known Member

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    This is true and something we don’t know. If they were just starting their hike it would definitely change things.
     
  9. Hoytie

    Hoytie Former Member

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    So sad. Whatever the cause of all of their deaths, at least they are all together.
     
  10. obripe

    obripe Well-Known Member

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    IMO they are involved because this took place on federal land.
     
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  11. fred&edna

    fred&edna Well-Known Member

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    Yes... that's probably the reason!
     
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  12. eptichka83

    eptichka83 Well-Known Member

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    First-time poster here. Thanks for the excellent info so far. I can't get this case out of my head. For those interested, there are some reviews of the trail on AllTrails. It gives a good indication of just how long and strenuous it is: very steep and exposed 3+ miles back up from the water, assuming they went that far (just over 7 miles round-trip from where they would have parked). But if I were a local and saw the page on AllTrails, I'd be drawn in by the beautiful pictures of the water at the gulch. In this case, it's odd to me that LE didn't mention heat as a potential factor in their release or interviews. So sad and strange.

    ETA: Google Earth image I took of the portion of the hike leading down to Devil Gulch (at left) and back toward their car (at right, not pictured, and probably another mile or so away).
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2021
  13. LietKynes

    LietKynes Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I think so --there'd be burns or some trauma to their skin ?
    But, all three, plus the dog -- being struck down ?
    Hmmm...
     
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  14. Knox

    Knox Well-Known Member

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    The California Department of Justice is also assisting with this investigation to help determine the cause of the family’s death. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office says autopsies and toxicology reports are pending.
    Mariposa County Sheriff: ‘I’ve never seen a death like this’ | YourCentralValley.com

    Someone clarified for me early on that it's the California DOJ, not the feds. IMO, Mariposa County Sheriff is a small department and likely doesn't have the forensic resources to do a full investigation. Asking for help makes sense.
     
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  15. LietKynes

    LietKynes Well-Known Member

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    Welcome to Websleuths !

    Great first post. :)
    Also, I can't help but wonder if the c.o.d. has been determined ?

    Thanks for the link.
     
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  16. Sunny Day

    Sunny Day Well-Known Member

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    I would think lightning would leave obvious signs. People have been known to be blown out of their shoes during a lightning strike, with burns, etc.
     
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  17. Satchie

    Satchie Well-Known Member

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    I don't think we know that they all died at once.

    That's an assumption, but, of course, the baby couldn't go anywhere, and some dogs don't know about Lassie, and will stay with their humans who are in trouble. For example, a woman was injured and lost for days and two of her dogs stayed with her. Dog walker rescued from Coquitlam back country describes ordeal | Vancouver Sun

    So then, that leaves the parents. Perhaps one of them was unable to function, perhaps because of heat exhaustion. Would the other be willing to leave them behind? Or were they so bonded as a couple with a small infant, that it was unthinkable to abandon the other?
    Or, just as an example, pure speculation, what if something happened to the baby, ie she died on the trail? Parents might be so overcome that they wouldn't want to live, to carry her up to the car and take her to hospital, knowing it was too late.

    Emphasising, these are not scenarios I am convinced happened, but can be the kind of unusual emotional/ psychological circumstances that lead to tragic outcomes.
     
  18. Rosegold68

    Rosegold68 Well-Known Member

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    snake bites?
    other insect which can swarm/kill?
    dog went in water, came out and shook himself showering everyone with algae water
    food/water they took along contaminated
    berries/fruit etc they all ate from nearby bushes or trees

    it surely must be something they all ingested
     
  19. Shamrock1

    Shamrock1 Well-Known Member

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    Has to be a toxic gas IMO. Heatstroke and oral ingestion of many toxic substances would likely leave evidence of vomit/body fluids on at least one of the four.

    I know many hikers wouldn’t take a child on this hike in August and some wonder if this was self-harm, but…plenty of people make less-than-ideal decisions with no intent other than having a pleasant outing. This applies even to experienced hikers. And - assuming they got both a dog and an infant to ingest something - there would likely be some fluids evidencing a poisoning IMO.
     
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  20. SophieRose

    SophieRose Well-Known Member

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    Reason why CA DOJ is involved. I've seen this happen in other cases, doesn't at all mean it's a homicide.

    Brits' hiking deaths are homicide say cops who've 'never seen a case like it'

    You have two healthy adults, you have a healthy child and what appears to be a healthy canine all within a general same area.

    "So right now, we're treating the coroner investigation as a homicide until we can establish the cause."
     
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