Sierra Trekkers Last Act Was To Save Baby, Report Says | national news

A young couple found dead on a California hiking trail during the summer fought to protect their 1-year-old daughter in the hours before they all finally succumb to the 109-degree heat, according to a new report investigation.

The mystery ensued for weeks after rescuers discovered the bodies of Jonathan Gerrish, a 45-year-old British software engineer, his 31-year-old wife, Ellen Chung, their toddler, Miju, and the dog. of the family, Oksi, on August 17. along the Savage Lundy Trail in the Sierra National Forest near the South Fork of the Merced River. How exactly the family died baffled authorities, with investigators initially suggesting toxic algae in the area was to blame.

The mystery ensued for weeks after rescuers discovered the bodies along the Savage Lundy Trail in the Sierra National Forest near the South Fork of the Merced River

In October, Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese revealed the family likely died of hyperthermia and probable dehydration, with their dog also most likely suffering from a heat-related death in scorching conditions. A new 77-page report obtained by The San Francisco Chronicle on Friday provided a glimpse into the family’s final hours.

Investigators now believe the parents were seeking medical help for Miju, before they too both collapsed from the heat.

The family began their fatal hike on August 15 before 8 a.m., when temperatures were still only around 70 degrees, according to the report. A US Forest Service volunteer who had walked the nearly 8-mile loop more than a dozen times told a deputy the family appeared “totally unaware of the dangers” they faced.

Within hours, the heat soared to over 100 degrees, and without any shade the ground would have been insanely hot and possibly even painful to sit on.

The couple’s babysitter reported the family missing on August 16 at around 11 p.m. Less than 24 hours later, yoga teacher and graduate student Gerrish, Chung, their daughter and dog were discovered approximately 2.5 miles from the trailhead of the Savage Lundy Trail. They had completed nearly four-fifths of the hike, which officials have repeatedly urged not to undertake during the hottest months of the year.

According to the investigation report, Chung was found far in front of her husband, leading authorities to believe that she was seeking help when she collapsed. Gerrish, meanwhile, likely sat down and tried to calm down with the baby, who reportedly started showing signs of distress long before his parents did.

Oski, a mixture of Australian Shepherd and Akita with a thick coat, also likely struggled during the hike, investigators said.

Additionally, investigators said the family only brought about 85 ounces of water for their trip, despite a recommendation from a US Forest Service volunteer that adults bring 160 ounces of water each and 16 ounces of water each. for an infant and a dog, according to the report.

“Our hearts will never forget the good life of Jonathan, Ellen, Miju and, of course, Oski,” the family said in a statement in August. “They will stay with us wherever we go.”


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