Hiking Trail Where Californian Family Found Dead Closed Due to ‘Unknown Risks’ | California
A popular California National Forest has closed trails near where a couple, their baby and the family’s dog were found dead last month.
Highlighting the “unknown dangers found in and near the Savage Lundy Trail,” officials said the Sierra National Forest will close trails, campgrounds and picnic sites for nearly a month. John Gerrish, 45, his wife, Ellen Chung, 30, their one-year-old daughter, Muji, and their dog were found dead on the Mariposa County hiking trail. Authorities have yet to determine how they died.
Authorities found the bodies of the family, who reportedly went out for a hike, on August 17, after a family friend reported them missing. With no sign of death immediately clear, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office briefly treated the area as a hazardous materials site. Investigators first investigated whether carbon monoxide, exposure to gas from area mines or toxic algae could be responsible for the deaths.
Before the tragedy, authorities warned hikers about harmful algae blooms along the South Fork of the Merced River, and a water test in the area was positive for toxic algae, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. . The state water authority and independent laboratories also test the water the family had with them.
The shutdown, which is effective until September 26, came the day before the U.S. Forest Service announced it would close all California National Forests until September 17 due to the wildfire crisis in the state.
The majority of the trail has little shade and trees, and the temperatures were up to 109 ° F the day the family hiked.
The sheriff’s office announced last week that it had ruled out firearms or any other type of weapon and any chemical hazards along the trail as causes of death. The family’s autopsies have been performed, but authorities are awaiting toxicological results.
“We know that John and Ellen’s family and friends are in desperate need of answers, our team of detectives are working around the clock. Cases like this require us to be methodical and thorough while contacting all the resources we have. can be found to help us get those answers to them as quickly as possible, ”said Jeremy Briese, the county sheriff.