Jonathan Gerrish, 45, wife Ellen Chung, 31, and their one-year-old daughter Muji were all found dead on a hiking trail in August, but detectives were baffled by what happened
Image: Rossana Heaslett)
The mystery deaths of a British couple and their daughter found on a hiking trail in California have been solved two months after their bodies were discovered.
Jonathan Gerrish, 45, who was originally from Lancashire, wife Ellen Chung, 31, their one-year-old daughter Muji and the family’s dog, Oski, were all found dead in the Sierra National Forest on August 17.
Detectives had a number of theories behind their deaths, which included suicide, being poisoned by toxic material, in the water, or a freak lightening strike.
But police have now confirmed the group died from hyperthermia and dehydration.
Their 8-year-old dog Oski also suffered a heat-related death, police said.
Jonathan, Ellen and Muji were found 1.6 miles from their vehicle in temperatures which could have soared above 100F (37C), Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said.
They were found with one empty water bottle and a bottle of formula between them, which indicated the heat and lack of sustenance likely contributed to their death.
For Mariposa County, this is rare,” Sheriff Briese told reporters at a conference.
“This is the first hyperthermia cause of death that I’ve witnessed here in 20 years.”
Extreme can cause dizziness brought on by extreme heat fatigue, Healthline says.
Hyperthermia is an abnormally high body temperature caused by the failure of heat-regulating mechanisms.
Search teams found the experienced family’s bodies at a site near a spot called Devil Gulch on August 17, one day after they were reported missing by their nanny.
It is understood the Jonathan, a software engineer, and yoga instructor Ellen were experienced hikers.
Jonathan was found in a seated position with Miju and Oski near him, The Washington Post reported at the time, and Ellen was discovered some way away from them up a hill.
Following the conclusion this week, their family had thanked police for having ‘”truly gone the extra mile’ in trying to find answers.
In a statement issued on the Thursday they said: “The loss of the family is pain beyond words and when that pain is compacted by lack of knowledge about their death, the questions of where, why, when and how fill the void, day and night.’
“Some questions have been answered, and we will use this to help us come to terms with this.
“They will remain with us wherever we go, or whatever we do”.