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. annpats

    annpats Well-Known Member

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    I just don't see this as a suicide.
    I mean, both of them?
    And to take the baby and dog while doing it?

    And I don't go with the murder-suicide theory either.

    I'm almost 99.99999% in favour of over-exertion and severe overheating causing fatal heatstroke in all - during an outing that should've taken place somewhere cooler and somewhere easier in terrain.
     


  2. silsby

    silsby Active Member

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    I agree with your surmising 100%. Yes, it’s sad and terrible to think, but to me it makes sense. Especially as someone who has gone through very very dark times. The “masks we wear” in public can be very deceiving.

    also, is Ellen’s last post on IG in January? Very different in this modern world for a new first time mom whose baby was still quite young…
     
  3. Kaley Smith

    Kaley Smith Well-Known Member

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    I definitely think it was heatstroke. So sad.
     
  4. SophieRose

    SophieRose Well-Known Member

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    Here's an episode on Naked and Afraid where a cast member suffered from heat stroke.

     
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  5. silsby

    silsby Active Member

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    Also, someone in a previous mentioned, why choose such a public place for a suicide? It wasn’t too public. No one crossed that path until LE did searching for them. Clearly not very used. In addition, the couple might know that, since it was close to their home.

    The vast majority on here are really leaning towards heat stroke, but I’m finding it so unlikely that someone wouldn’t be farther along the trail to get help, as it would affect all differently. Plus, didn’t LE say heatstroke was unlikely?
     
  6. bpeterson912

    bpeterson912 Well-Known Member

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    A few pages back, GrimonTV posted the hourly temperature readings that day from a nearby weather station at El Portal.

    At 6:51 AM, it was 53 degrees.
    At 8:51 AM, it was 85 degrees.
    At 10:51 AM, it was 99 degrees.
    At 12:51 PM, it was 107 degrees.

    I understand that there's uncertainty about when the family departed for the hike. But if they left early in the morning (as some indications suggest), it would have been pleasantly cool when they started and oppressively hot a short time later.

    Cool nights and hot days are the norm in the Sierra foothills in mid-summer, but a nearly 50-degree warmup in just four hours is on the extreme end of things. The family could have been caught off guard that it got so hot so fast.
     
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  7. NSamuelle

    NSamuelle Well-Known Member

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    LE said dehydration was unlikely - that’s not necessarily a cure for heatstroke once you’re into it (literally submerging people in cold water is much more effective), but the fact that they were not dehydrated does make heatstroke less likely (LE quote from article posted above: “Mr Briese said the couple, who were last seen on 15 August, had water with them, making dehydration unlikely.”).

    For whatever reason, LE does not seem to strongly consider heat stroke. If the baby was suffering, you’d think they would douse her clothing with water repeatedly. A wet shirt is better protection against HS than no shirt, and they had water left, which means they had some options left.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2021
  8. silsby

    silsby Active Member

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    Thank you for the clarification on what was reported.
     
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  9. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    This is what the LE said: "There are other possibilities of just the natural elements of heat, and dehydration, and the aggressiveness of this hike, but right now we don’t have any of those answers (answers meaning toxicology reports).


    The LE also confidently ruled out homicide and toxic gases so what other likely explanation could there be.
     
  10. katydid23

    katydid23 Well-Known Member

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    My theory is that they did douse her with water, thus using up most of the rest of their water. And they began hurrying very fast towards the car, which was an hour and a half away---it was now 107 degrees with no shade trees---and the father begins having heat stroke symptoms---he cannot walk well and is incoherent---he has to sit down---the baby is unconscious? Mother pushes on to try and find help....
     
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  11. nao

    nao Well-Known Member

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    Moo...it is the brain that needs cooling. As with high temp fever you can become delirious....moo
     
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  12. NSamuelle

    NSamuelle Well-Known Member

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    Wasn’t the car only 1.5 miles away? That shouldn’t be 1.5 hours away, right? Maybe 30 minutes with the terrain?
     
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  13. LifeIsAMystery

    LifeIsAMystery Well-Known Member

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    She mentioned a TBI from an accident. I don't know if that would have ongoing impacts on executive functions, for example? She also referred to a debilitating health condition, not sure if that was the same issue or a different one. Yet, she did make a valiant attempt to go for help or at least higher to try to get cell reception. I don't think it is unusual for people to want to stay together and then the second becomes incapacitated too. So sad.
     
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  14. GatorFL

    GatorFL Well-Known Member

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    LOL I'm pretty old too. I usually hike by blazes but sometimes on a more technical trail I'll break out Guthook. I haven't used a Garmin in years because I found the one I used to be pretty difficult to use. Today's technology is a lot better, you can message easily even.

    I was hiking late last year with a group of people on a difficult trail and even though it was wintertime it got very hot over the 12 miles. One of the ladies in the group had bought a new backpack with a bladder. She never gave the bladder a test run beforehand. The bladder ended up having a problem and she couldn't get water through the hose or mouthpiece. She made it through the hike, we had enough bottles of water to keep her hydrated. In this case, this person did not test her equipment out on a difficult hike and she had some challenges for sure.

    A different lady did not make it to the end, she stopped along the roadway our trail interested and I picked her up. We're friends now and hike together sometimes! In her case she bit off more than she could chew. You have to know your limits.

    In this case I am interested to see if heat stroke is the cause. Honestly I doubt it, I feel it would have affected one of them, not all of them concurrently.
     
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  15. silsby

    silsby Active Member

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    One last food for thought: do you think LE was quick to “rule out” homicide because they didn’t believe there was a threat to the public and didn’t want to scare people into NOT hiking or getting outdoors?

    I really don’t know what it is. I find the baby not near Mom to be puzzling, regardless of baby’s condition.

    This is truly a sad situation, regardless
     
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  16. bpeterson912

    bpeterson912 Well-Known Member

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    If it was 1.5 miles with several hundred feet of elevation gain on a 100+ degree day, 30 minutes is very optimistic. An hour would be more realistic. And that's without factoring in any heat illness or exhaustion.
     
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  17. rahod1

    rahod1 Well-Known Member

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    Three of the victims were prime candidates for heat stroke: 1) The father had a back back with infant and was hiking uphill 2) The infant was very vulnerable to the heat 3) The dog was also vulnerable and was walking uphill. The Mother *should* have been far less vulnerable, assuming she wasn't carrying anything significant. The fact she was found not far from the others is a bit perplexing. It may be that she also carried the child for a period of time when the husband fell ill EARLIER? That would pre-dispose her heat stroke as well. When he could no longer walk, she may have then decided to leave the child next to her husband and go it alone, since carrying the child (with back pack) would almost certainly bring her down, given her diminished state. It's also possible she made it further up the hill and decided to return and succumbed in the process. Very tragic indeed.
     
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  18. lilithblue

    lilithblue Well-Known Member

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    <modsnip>

    There is a lot of talk about the algae. I'm on the fence there, and my judgment may be clouded by experiences in my own area, because I've never heard of it being so toxic to kill a human, let alone three and a dog, especially that quickly.

    <modsnip> Which leads me to believe that it was not as hot as everyone here keeps claiming. I could believe it as a factor, like if they had managed to get stuck in a small area they couldn't get out of and they would have eventually succumbed. I get that there's probably not a ton of shade, but I'm not buying that there is no shade. The fire there was three years ago. My home and property was destroyed by a wildfire last year. It's no longer forested, but you would be amazed at how much has grown back even after a year. There might not be decades old trees, but I find it hard to believe there is absolutely no shade after three years.

    I can see the baby, and possibly the dog, dying from the heat if the adults had been disabled somehow. I don't see a scenario where the baby or dog go first. The only thing that remotely makes sense is they got horribly lost for at least the entire day on Sunday, possibly overnight. Heat and/or algae blooms could have been contributing factors, but I feel like something had to have gone horribly wrong first. I had considered maybe they locked themselves out of their car, and with no cell coverage, tried to wait it out. Walking up to the road would have made more sense though.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 24, 2021
  19. NSamuelle

    NSamuelle Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, good point - I just thought 1.5 hours as an estimate for 1.5 miles was a lot. If anyone has been on the last part of those switchbacks and can provide insight, that would be helpful.
     
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  20. woods

    woods Well-Known Member

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    Two Death Valley hikers die in extreme heat on the same trail in one week.

    Temperatures soared to 109 degrees in Death Valley over the weekend.

    The trail is a 3-mile out-and-back trip that’s considered to be a moderate hike. It winds uphill gradually through a rocky corridor and takes a hiker over short ledges and low overhangs, according to the National Park Service.

    “Clear, dry air, and minimal plant coverage means there’s little to block the sun from heating up the ground. Heat radiates from the ground back into the air.”

    Death Valley National Park rangers offer these tips to stay safe in the heat:
    • Limit strenuous activity

    • End hikers before 10 a.m.

    • Drink plenty of water

    • Eat salty snacks

    • Stay close to air conditioning
    https://www.newsobserver.com/news/nation-world/national/article253711443.html



     
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