Campground Where Family, Dog Were Found Dead Closed For 'Unknown Hazards'
By Jason Hall
September 1, 2021
Federal forest officials confirmed trails and campgrounds in a remote area near Yosemite National Park were closed due to "unknown hazards" spotted in the same area where a family and their dog were found dead last month.
According to the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office, Jonathan Gerrish, Ellie Chung, their 1-year-old daughter Miju, and their dog, Oksi, were all located by a team of rescue workers on the Savage Lundy Trail in the area of the Sierra National Forest near the south fork of Merced River on August 17, CNN reports.
Sierra National Forest officials confirmed the park decided to close the area where the family was located as a precaution after "unknown hazards found in and around the Savage Lundy Trail" were observed.
"Designated recreation sites, roads, and trails in proximity and/or leading to this location will be off limits to public," Sierra National Forest said in a statement shared on its USDA.gov website on Saturday (August 28).
The park confirmed the closures will be in effect until September 26.
The U.S. Forest Service has also temporarily closed all California national forests since the announcement was made due to numerous wildfires throughout the state.
Investigators working on the Sierra National Forest case have yet to determine what led to the deaths of the family found on the Savage Lundy Trail.
Autopsies conducted on the family and a necropsy on the dog were inconclusive, while investigators are still awaiting pending toxicology results, CNN reports.
Kristie Mitchell, a spokesperson for the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office, told CNN that results could come as early as Wednesday.
Investigators have already ruled out gunshots, any other type of weapon or chemical hazards along the Savage Lundy Trail as potential causes of death, but have not ruled out possible toxins in the areas near the trail, according to CNN.
The park has had signs warning of a toxic algae blooming in the area along south fork of the Merced River -- which was nearby where the family was located -- erected since mid-July.
Water samples from the area and samples of drinking water that were packed by and found with the family have already been sent to labs for testing in relation to the investigation.