Hiking

Couple found dead on hiking trail in California likely tried to save baby, report says

John Gerrish and Ellen Chung had recently moved to the Marisopa area with their 1 year old daughter and dog. (Steven Jeffe via KTVU)

The Californian couple who died in August on a secluded hiking trail in the Sierra National Forest along with their 1-year-old dog and family likely succumbed to the extreme heat, lack of water and exertion, according to a report.

John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and their dog were all found dead on a hiking trail near Hite’s Cove in the Sierra National Forest.

A family friend had reported them missing after they did not return from their day hike.

Gerrish also lacked work as a software engineer. Their deaths were considered mysterious, and theories ranged from homicide to possible exposure to poison gas from abandoned mines nearby.

RELATED: Report details missteps that helped kill family of hikers in Sierra Foothills

The San Francisco Chronicle obtained 77 pages of reports on their deaths, and investigators determined there was a fatal combination of “dire choices” that led to the tragedies.

The report says authorities first located the bodies of Gerrish, the child and the dog. The search for Chung continued and his body was found “on top of a hill,” about 13 feet higher than his family.

The temperature on the trail is brutal during the summer months and the couple apparently didn’t bring enough water. A doctor reportedly told investigators their “clock was ticking” as they began the hike.

RELATED: California family found dead in secluded hiking area have died of heat and dehydration

A survival trainer told investigators he believed the couple were “caught off guard, and once they realized their predicament they died trying to save their child and each other.” .

“It is likely that the child began to succumb first, which precipitated the efforts of the parents up the hill. It is a tragedy of the first order, “said the coach.

RELATED: Northern California family of 3 found dead in isolated hiking area

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