Northern California Family Mysteriously Dies While Hiking in Remote Area of Sierra National Forest

by Madison Miller

A family hiking trip has unfortunately ended in a mysterious tragedy.

The family consisted of the parents, John Gerrish and Ellen Chung, and their daughter, 1-year-old Muji. Also along on the trip was the family dog.

The family had taken a hike in a remote part of the Sierra National Forest, known for its breathtaking lakes and mountain scenery. Unfortunately, the bodies of the entire family were found near the Devil’s Gulch in the South Fork of the Merced River. The family was reported as missing prior to the search that led to their bodies.

Mysterious Death of Northern California Family

According to The Mercury News, a friend of the family reported them as missing on Monday evening. Authorities first located their car, which was very close to the location of the bodies.

As of right now, their death is met with confusion and uncertainty. There was no clear cause of death determined at the scene of the incident. Authorities see no clear sign of animal attack or other natural conditions that occurred while hiking. There was no sign of foul play, such as trauma or gunshot wounds, and there was no suicide note found either.

For this reason, authorities are handling it all as a potential hazardous materials situation. However, authorities aren’t ruling out anything as of now.

The area in which they were hiking could have had either toxic algae or even carbon monoxide.

“It could be a carbon monoxide situation. That’s one of the reasons why we’re treating it as a hazmat situation,” a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, Kristie Mitchell, shared with the news outlet.

The news was heartbreaking for the community, which is still seeking answers for the mysterious death of the family of three.

“This is never the outcome we want or the news we want to deliver; my heart breaks for their family. Our Sheriff’s Chaplains and staff are working with their family and will continue to support them during this heartbreaking time,” Sheriff Jeremy Briese said in a statement to the public, according to USA Today.

Another Sierra Wilderness Death While Hiking

Another freak accident occurred to a 37-year-old man that was out hiking last week. Nicholas Torchia was hiking near the John Muir Trail in Fresno County.

According to The Fresno Bee, Torchia was struck by lightning near Muir Trail Ranch. He died from electrocution.

“Torchia took cover by leaning against a tree, a tree which was then struck by a lightning bolt. Torchia fell to the ground. His fellow hikers came to check on him and he told them he didn’t feel well and then became unconscious. A doctor and a nurse who were on the trail tended to Torchia by administering CPR for three hours. Despite their great efforts, he ultimately passed away,” the sheriff’s spokesperson Tony Botti told the publication.

The rescue team had to wait for a break in the storm to retrieve his body via helicopter. He was thought to be hit by one of the first lightning strikes of the storm while hiking.