‘Key results’ needed in mystery of Sierra hiking deaths – GV Wire
MARIPOSA – Authorities are awaiting the results of key toxicology tests in the mysterious death of a family and their dog in a remote hiking area of the Sierra.
Progress in resolving the case, the six-week-old case is limited to ruling out death by firearm or other weapon, lightning strike, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, cyanide exposure , illegal drugs, alcohol or suicide, the Mariposa County office told the sheriff’s office.
The bodies of John Gerrish, his wife Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter Miju and their dog were found on August 17 on a hiking trail near the Merced River in the Sierra National Forest. A family friend reported them missing.
“We respect and understand the need for information and details regarding this matter. Our current priorities remain to support and inform the Gerrish / Chung family during this tragic time. As we navigate this investigation with the family, we will share our findings with the public later. “Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said in a press release.
Toxic algae are not excluded
The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday officials were working with toxicologists, environmentalists, the FBI and other experts, but “the cause of death remains undetermined.”
“All other potential causes of death remain,” the sheriff’s office said, without giving details.
While many toxicology reports are complete, authorities are awaiting “some key results.” However, there is no timeline for these, the ministry said.
An early theory that has not been ruled out is whether the high levels of toxic algae detected played a role.
Investigators have received the results of water samples in the area but are still awaiting further test results to help determine if the levels were high enough to cause death, said Kristie Mitchell, spokesperson for the office of the sheriff.
Authorities sent the couple’s phones and computers to the FBI, she said.
“We haven’t ruled out much other than what we’ve listed,” Mitchell said. “Everything else is always available as an option. “
(GV Wire contributed to this report.)