Update: Officials have determined that the entire family, and presumably the dog, died from heatstroke.
Earlier this month, a mother, father, young child and family dog, were discovered deceased on a trail in the Sierra National Forest. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office released details about the mysterious deaths on August 17:
MISSING FAMILY FOUND DECEASED
The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office began a Search and Rescue operation after a family was reported missing Monday night August 16th at 11pm.
Search teams located the family’s vehicle near the Sierra National Forest gate leading to Hites Cove in the Jerseydale area. A short time later the family; John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, one year old daughter Miju and the family dog were located deceased near the Devil’s Gulch area in the Southfork of the Merced River drainage.
The authorities were able to rule out homicide as the cause of death, and initially turned their attention to the potential of a toxic substance in the area. There were fears that noxious gases may have been released from abandoned mines in the area, but investigators ruled that out.
Autopsies were performed on the family, but there were no clues found and now investigators are awaiting necropsy results from the family dog, Oksi, with the hope that the outcome will shed light on the tragic mystery.
The bodies have revealed no obvious signs of death and investigators did not find a suicide note. Mariposa County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kristie Mitchell told FOX News:
“Initially, yes, when we come across a family with no apparent cause of death, there’s no smoking gun, there’s no suicide note, there’s nothing like that, we have to consider all options. Now that we’re five days in, no, we’re no longer considering homicide as a cause of death.“
“There’s toxicology that we’re waiting for from the autopsies themselves, and then also from the [necropsy for the dog].”
Officials are testing nearby water sources to see if toxic algae are present.
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