Family dies in Mariposa county due to possible mineshaft gasses

firebird

Full Member
Oct 17, 2018
212
281
Central Valley California
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/19/us/yosemite-family-death-trnd/index.html

Be careful out there guys. I've prospected in that area before and I swear I could smell something unpleasant in the water in the creeks there like gas. Authorities are still unsure what killed the family, no obvious signs of death/wounds and best theory so far is either mineshaft gasses from the old mines in the area or algae bloom in the creeks.
 
Upvote 4

Tesorodeoro

Bronze Member
Jan 21, 2018
1,009
1,645
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Happens all the time. I've hiked the grand canyon now 7 times. South Rim to Phantom ranch and back. Approximately 20 miles. And even with multiple hikers always on the trail and park rangers never more then an hour or two away, every year several die of heat exhaustion.

So if you think it's a conspiracy, you're looking for one.
You talking to me or someone else?
 

Tesorodeoro

Bronze Member
Jan 21, 2018
1,009
1,645
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
You talking to me or someone else?
I highly doubt an entire family including a dog die of dehydration on the trail next to each other routinely. Dying of dehydration - certainly. Dying within hundreds of yards of civilization sure. I question the discovery is exactly as news media described it. This is the perfect story that could be presented in a way that would grow legs and make $$.
 
Last edited:

GoDeep

Bronze Member
Nov 12, 2016
2,073
4,411
Detector(s) used
Whites, Garrett, Minelab
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
I highly doubt an entire family including a dog die of dehydration on the trail next to each other routinely. Dying of dehydration - certainly. Dying within hundreds of yards of civilization sure. I question the discovery is exactly as news media described it. This is the perfect story that could be presented in a way that would grow legs and make $$.
Well they did. Upon what evidence do you base your opinion?

- Were you present at the scene when forensics and LE was working it? What evidence at the scene did you observe that makes you question the official findings?

- Did you participate in the autopsy of the 3 cadavers and dog or, at the least, have access to the autopsy reports and their findings? What did you see in the autopsy that makes you want to overrule the coroners finding?

- Did you have access to the toxicology reports and their findings? What did you see in the blood work that makes you believe the medical examiner is wrong about the cause of death?

- Are you privy to any other evidence uncovered in the course of the investigation either prior to of after time of death that helped you form an opinion contrary to the medical examiner?
 
Last edited:

Tesorodeoro

Bronze Member
Jan 21, 2018
1,009
1,645
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Well they did. Upon what evidence do you base your opinion?

- Were you present at the scene when forensics and LE was working it? What evidence at the scene did you observe that makes you question the official findings?

- Did you participate in the autopsy of the 3 cadavers and dog or, at the least, have access to the autopsy reports and there findings? What did you see in the autopsy that makes you want to overrule the coroners finding?

- Did you have access to the toxicology reports and their findings? What did you see in the blood work that makes you believe the medical examiner is wrong about the cause of death?

- Are you privy to any other evidence uncovered in the course of the investigation either prior to of after time of death that helped you form an opinion contrary to the medical examiner?
I find it highly unlikely that the father, mother, child, and dog were all just laying in the trail next to each other after all dying of thirst. Has nothing to do with “doubting” professionals work or their ultimate opinion of the cause of death. I think we should question the information being presented to us by media. “Near each other” could mean many things. Not looking for an intellectual debate, just throwing that out there since we were not there and didn’t talk to professionals. They may not have actually been found laying next to each other in the trail in a literal sense. That’s the part I find somewhat incredible. A family dying of thirst along with their dog is completely plausible to me.
 

GoDeep

Bronze Member
Nov 12, 2016
2,073
4,411
Detector(s) used
Whites, Garrett, Minelab
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
They may not have actually been found laying next to each other in the trail in a literal sense. That’s the part I find somewhat incredible.
Yeah, i agree there, no doubt there's details we aren't privy too.

My response too was actually more directed at the conspiracy minded post above.

He's got not a lick of evidence, wasn't present for any of the investigation, wasn't present for the autopsy and didn't review the toxicology reports but yet it's more plausible to him/her that it's a nefarious/unknown/mystical reason just because of the spine tingle they get...
 

Tesorodeoro

Bronze Member
Jan 21, 2018
1,009
1,645
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Yeah, i agree there, no doubt there's details we aren't privy too.

My response too was actually more directed at the conspiracy minded post above.

He's got not a lick of evidence, wasn't present for any of the investigation, wasn't present for the autopsy and didn't review the toxicology reports but yet it's more plausible to him/her that it's a nefarious/unknown/mystical reason just because of the spine tingle they get...
I just got to identify which part is incredible and where the information came from. Even
LE media releases are suspect to me since they are under no legal obligation to be truthful when investigating. Their goal is to seek the truth.

Never mind reacting to information presented by professional story tellers (Modern American news media, all views). That part is no longer conspiracy theory. Having nothing to do with political parties. It seems you just can’t believe what you read anymore regardless of where it comes from.
 

Onewolf

Jr. Member
Aug 19, 2021
27
111
Shreveport La.
Detector(s) used
Ace 250-Delta 4000-Nokta Pulse Dive
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
It’s not a conspiracy. INVESTIGATOR EGO is a real thing. They’ve got to say something. If you want to believe it then gobble it down. I think in time other answers will come forward.
 

GoDeep

Bronze Member
Nov 12, 2016
2,073
4,411
Detector(s) used
Whites, Garrett, Minelab
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
It’s not a conspiracy. INVESTIGATOR EGO is a real thing. They’ve got to say something. If you want to believe it then gobble it down. I think in time other answers will come forward.
It's not a conspiracy, yet your evidence is "investigator ego".

Yet, the investigation wasn't rushed, involved crime scene processing both at the scene, their automobile and their home including forensic examination of thier media, computers and cell phone, medical examiners, autopsies, toxicology testing, biologists, scientists, all of which supported the findings of death by dehydration/hyperthermia (not an uncommon cause of death in 107F conditions).

What evidence do you have that they overlooked?
 

Onewolf

Jr. Member
Aug 19, 2021
27
111
Shreveport La.
Detector(s) used
Ace 250-Delta 4000-Nokta Pulse Dive
Primary Interest:
Metal Detecting
Do you have any evidence other than what you have read?
 

GoDeep

Bronze Member
Nov 12, 2016
2,073
4,411
Detector(s) used
Whites, Garrett, Minelab
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Do you have any evidence other than what you have read?
Burden of proof fallacy. You made the claim you don't believe the cause of death, you made the claim it isn't a conspiracy, you made the claim it's "investigator ego", you made the claim answers will be coming. The onus falls on you, not me.

I'll take your burden shifting as a No, you have no evidence and thus "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence."
 
Last edited:

Kevin D

Jr. Member
Nov 24, 2015
44
82
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Hi All,
in a follow-up article to this sad and tragic event, the Washington Post reported yesterday that following a litany of tests over the past two months, investigators have determined that the cause of death for the family was hyperthermia and possible dehydration. some detail on the findings from the investigation is given in the link

 
Last edited:

Red-Coat

Silver Member
Dec 23, 2019
3,584
11,152
Surrey, UK
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
I have been following this tragic case. Here's a more detailed summary of what has been established compiled from multiple sources:

John Gerrish (45) and his partner, Ellen Chung (30) were described by friends as “experienced hikers” but were relative newcomers to the area. They moved to Mariposa County from San Francisco during the pandemic and bought a number of properties around the Sierra foothills community, some of which were let as vacation rentals. They bought one property near the trailhead on Hites Cove Road.

Mr Gerrish had been researching the Hites Cove hike on a phone app on the night of 14th August, the day before they started out with their one-year-old daughter Miju and their dog Oksi, an eight-year-old Australian shepherd-akita mix. In planning the journey, Mr Gerrish had only entered ‘way points’ into the app, which would not have calculated the actual trail mileage or elevation changes.

Their truck was seen by a witness at around 7:45am on August 15, heading towards the Hites Cove Trailhead. Fifteen minutes later, the truck was seen parked at the trailhead at the end of Hites Cove Road, with no-one around. The temperature at the time was between 74-76 degrees at the dirt fence with an altitude of 3,880 feet.

They would then have had to walk 2.2 miles down the partially paved Hites Cove Road trail to U.S. Forest Service Trail 20E01.4, by which time the temperature had risen dramatically to between 92-99 degrees. They may not have been aware how quickly this can happen.

That trail would have led them along the South Fork of the Merced River for about 1.9 miles to the Savage Lundy Trail, a precipitous incline with a series of unforgiving switchbacks. By that time the temperature would have been above 100 degrees. They would have trekked that two mile stretch, climbing over 2,000 vertical feet between about 12:50pm and 2:50pm. The trail faces south-southeast and at that time of the day is exposed to constant sun, with no shade. The Ferguson fire of 2018 exacerbated that by burning away what little brush canopy had existed. The temperature peaked at around 109 degrees during their hike.

The bodies were found two days later, around 1.6 miles from their truck. They were apparently on the return leg of what would have been an 8.5 mile loop, with about 5 miles of it in challenging terrain during the hottest part of the day. Sadly, they appeared to have been ill-equipped for such a trek, which is unsuitable for an excursion with a baby.

Mr Gerrish was found in a seated position on a steep dirt path section of the switchbacks leading back to where their truck was parked, with his daughter and dog next to him. The baby was in a backpack carrier. Ms Chung was found slightly further up the path. Mr Gerrish was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, Ms Chung was wearing a tank-top, and both were wearing shorts. Neither of them had hats, and no hats were found in the vicinity. They had only one water container: a ‘Camelbak’ with an 85 ounce bladder lining, which was virtually empty. They had no water filtration equipment and the only other items of sustenance found were some snacks and a bottle containing baby formula.

The couple’s truck keys were found near the bodies on the dirt path. Mr Gerrish’s cell phone was found in his shirt pocket. It has not yet been unlocked to determine whether he tried to make a distress call but there was, in any case, no reception signal in the area that would have enabled him to do so.

The bodies exhibited no injuries, either at the time or from subsequent post-mortem examination. With respect to the possibility of toxic fumes from an abandoned mine, the closest mine was more than two miles away and investigators found no evidence that the family got close to it, or any other mine. It was established that there were toxic plumes of blue-green algae (often mis-described as ‘bacterial’) along the south fork of the Merced River and Snyder Creek, which parallel the hike at the bottom of the valley. While Anatoxin-A from these plumes was found in both the river and creek, there was no indication the family drank any of that water and no evidence of toxins from blood samples. Although these kinds of toxins are also referred to as ‘Very Fast Death Factor’ (VFDF), there have been no confirmed human deaths attributed to them. The small amount of water remaining in their bladder container also tested negative for toxins. Six laboratories were involved in the analyses.

The cause of death for all three of the family was determined to be a consequence of hyperthermia and probable dehydration. The dog’s cause of death remains undetermined. Dogs are rather more resilient to dehydration, but there were signs that it had also suffered from heat exhaustion.

RIP and condolences to their family and friends.
 
Last edited:

jeff of pa

Super Moderator
Staff member
Dec 19, 2003
81,598
54,280
🥇 Banner finds
1
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
my mind still thinks the baby died first and a chain of events due to
its death, caused distress , fear , self loathing maybe even accusations
may have caused the mother, or father to die.
or eat something poisonous that just happened to be hard to detect.
though it doesn't necessarily explain the dog, they were Obviously unfit Parents
taking a Baby Hiking/camping.

only other excuse that fits, murder or planned suicide.

though a freak lightening bolt seems possible I guess
 

Tesorodeoro

Bronze Member
Jan 21, 2018
1,009
1,645
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
my mind still thinks the baby died first and a chain of events due to
its death, caused distress , fear , self loathing maybe even accusations
may have caused the mother, or father to die.
or eat something poisonous that just happened to be hard to detect.
though it doesn't necessarily explain the dog, they were Obviously unfit Parents
taking a Baby Hiking/camping.

only other excuse that fits, murder or planned suicide.

though a freak lightening bolt seems possible I guess
The child would have quickly overheated being in a backpack carrier in 109 deg. heat attached to an overheating man. Stupid!!
 

jeff of pa

Super Moderator
Staff member
Dec 19, 2003
81,598
54,280
🥇 Banner finds
1
🏆 Honorable Mentions:
1
Primary Interest:
All Treasure Hunting
Why in GOD’s name would anyone bring an infant on a hike like that??? Unless they were stranded in the middle of nowhere following a plane crash or being chased by NAZI’s, terrorists or some other person(s) with intent to harm.
that's the reason I won't rule out planned suicide.
no way on earth a baby would enjoy a trip like that.
or be a fun guest.
 

Clay Diggins

Silver Member
Nov 14, 2010
4,235
12,611
The Great Southwest
Primary Interest:
Prospecting
"Mr Gerrish was found in a seated position on a steep dirt path section of the switchbacks leading back to where their truck was parked, with his daughter and dog next to him. The baby was in a backpack carrier. Ms Chung was found slightly further up the path. Mr Gerrish was wearing a short-sleeved shirt, Ms Chung was wearing a tank-top, and both were wearing shorts."

This is very suspicious for people who are supposed to have died of heat exhaustion and dehydration. It certainly doesn't fit the profile we so often see in the desert southwest.

I have volunteered for several desert rescue organizations over the years. It's well known that people suffering from heat stroke/dehydration are easy to find - all you have to do is follow the line of discarded clothing. In virtually every case the victims become disorientated, begin wandering in different directions and remove their clothes as they wander. Bodies of those that have succumbed are scattered and most often nude. Rarely are victims that have traveled as a group found together. Add in the dog and you've got a fairy tale in the making.

I think they don't know how they died. I suspect there has been a lot of pressure to produce a result the public can accept and move on.
 

Top Member Reactions

Users who are viewing this thread

Metal Detecting Stuff

Latest Discussions

Top