Cause Of Death Determined For Family Found Dead With Dog At National Park

By Jason Hall

October 22, 2021

Trails to Taft Point, Yosemite National park
Photo: Getty Images

A cause of death has been determined for a family who -- along with their dog -- were found dead near Yosemite National Park in August.

Jonathan Gerrish, Ellie Chung, their 1-year-old daughter Miju, all died from "heat-related issues," Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese announced Thursday (October 21) via the Huffington Post.

Briese said temperatures on the trail were up to 107 and 109 degrees on the day of the family's final hike and the family had one 85-ounce water container -- which was found empty -- on them at the time.

The cause of death of the family's dog, Oski, is still undetermined based on remains, however, Briese said its possible the canine experienced hyperthermia and dehydration.

Last month, federal forest officials confirmed trails and campgrounds in a remote area near Yosemite National Park were closed due to "unknown hazards" spotted in the area where the family was 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 reported.

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 website on Saturday (August 28).

The park confirmed the closures were 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 had previously ruled out gunshots, any other type of weapon or chemical hazards along the Savage Lundy Trail as potential causes of death, but hadn't not ruled out possible toxins in the areas near the trail prior to determining a cause of death.

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.

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