Got A Tip?

Star Seeker

Viral: News

Sierra Hiking Family Sent Text BEGGING For Help Before Mysterious Deaths

Sierra Hiking Family Sent Help Message Before Mysterious Death

The fate of a Southern California family went unexplained for months — but if they’d only been successful in sending their last message, everyone would have known what had happened all along. And maybe, just maybe, someone might have been able to save them.

John Gerrish and his wife Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter Aurelia “Miju” Chung-Gerrish, and even their family’s golden retriever Oski were found dead back in August in the Sierra National Forest. After they didn’t show up for work, friends revealed they last heard from them when they were heading out on a Sunday hike. After a lengthy search, their bodies were found strewn in the open on a trail to Hite Cove, near Devil’s Gulch, with no signs of physical trauma, drugs, suicide, or animal attack. For two months their deaths remained a mystery.

65 days after the tragedy was discovered, the Mariposa County Sheriff revealed in a press conference that the family had died of hyperthermia — overheating. The weather on average was only in the mid-70s when they began their hike, so they brought only one large container of water. But they ended up on a steep climb with no shade at the hottest part of the day — experts estimate they were facing temperatures “between 107 and 109 degrees.” Avid hikers John and Ellen hadn’t accounted for the heat or they would have brought more water — and possibly not subjected their baby to that particular trail at all.

Related: 911 Caller Claims ‘The Devil’ Is Attacking Her — Police Arrive To Find Her Child Decapitated

We now have more evidence that’s exactly what happened — straight from Gerrish.

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office released their final update on the case — a report on the father’s phone records obtained by the FBI‘s  computer/phone forensic team. Sheriff Jeremy Briese said in a press release Thursday afternoon:

“Using the information extracted from the phone we were able to re-create the path and timeline based on the GPS locations. The details found on the phone support the findings of a heat-related incident.”

Looking at the data, the day began as you’d expect on a peaceful family hike. John began the hike by taking a video of the trail’s start at 7:44 a.m. For the next couple hours he and Ellen casually paused and took selfies and nature photos as they walked. That went on until about 10:29 a.m. Then no pic for quite some time. Things got serious.

The heat must have become terrifying over the next hour or so. Because at 11:56, clearly desperate and panicking, John sent the following text message:

“can you help us. On savage lundy trail heading back to Hites cove trail. No water or ver (over) heating with baby.”

They tried to get help. But as we know there was no cellular service in the area. They also tried making several phone calls over the next 40 minutes, to multiple phone numbers, all to no avail.

John took one final photo at 12:25 — a screenshot of the map showing their current location in the trail app they were using. They were trying to help people find them. But with no reception, there was just nothing they could do. Truly heartbreaking.

Thanks to the cell phone data, the Sheriff’s Office was also able to definitively map out the family’s final steps, as seen (below):

Briese concluded:

“The cell phone data results were the last thing both the family and detectives were waiting on. The extracted information confirms our initial findings. I am very proud of my team and our partner agencies for all the work they put in. Their dedication has allowed us to close this case and answer lingering questions the family had, bringing them a little peace.”


Stay safe out there, everyone.

[Image via Ellen Chung/Instagram]

Related Posts

Feb 18, 2022 15:16pm PDT