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Hiking Family NOT Killed By Lightning -- Here's Everything We DO Know

Mariposa lighting Deaths Cause John Gerrish Ellen Chung

This case just gets more baffling by the day.

California authorities have officially ruled out a freak lightning strike and cyanide exposure as potential causes of death of a hiker family who mysteriously died on a remote trail in August.

On Thursday, Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said in an emailed statement that numerous toxicology reports have been completed in the ongoing investigation into deaths of John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, daughter Muji, and their family dog — but noted few “key” results were still pending.

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In the meantime, the sheriff’s office has ruled out more than a half-dozen potential causes of death based on evidence recovered at the scene, including gun or any other type of weapon; lightning strike; carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide; cyanide; illegal drugs or alcohol, and suicide. Briese shared:

“We respect and understand the need for information and details regarding this case. Our current priorities remain supporting and informing the Gerrish / Chung family during this tragic time. As we navigate through this investigation with the family, we will later share our findings with the public.”

As we reported, a witness saw Gerrish and Chung heading to the Savage Lundy Trail in their truck at around 7:45 a.m. on August 15. Two days later, the parents, their one-year-old daughter and their dog, Oski, were discovered dead on the trail by search and rescue teams. Detectives have been working closely with a toxicologist, an environmental specialist, and the FBI to figure out what happened to the family.

One remaining potential cause of death? Toxic algae blooms — which were discovered around 12 miles downstream from where the family’s bodies were discovered. After water samples from the river tested positive for toxic algae, the Bureau of Land Management closed 28 miles of the river between the towns of Briceburg and Bagby.

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BLM spokesperson Elizabeth Meyer-Shields said of the discovery:

“These algal blooms can produce toxins that can make people and pets extremely sick. We will continue to monitor for the algae’s presence and look forward to when the public can safely recreate in the Merced River.”

Briese didn’t specify which toxicology results officials were still waiting on, and said he doesn’t know when they would come in, but made it clear officials were still hard at work investigating.

Hopefully we get answers soon.

[Image via Instagram]

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Sep 30, 2021 17:08pm PDT