Family dies in Mariposa county due to possible mineshaft gasses

firebird

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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.
 
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Tesorodeoro

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"On Thursday, Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said investigators concluded the family died from hyperthermia, a condition caused when a person's body temperature is dangerously high after exposure to hot, humid weather. It's unclear what killed the dog, an 8-year-old Australian shepherd and Akita mix. But Briese said evidence indicates the dog was "possibly suffering from heat-related issues."

"This is an unfortunate and tragic event due to the weather," he said."


It’s so much more than poor weather.
Ya it was the elements that got them in the end, but it really was a tragic and unfortunate event that happened only as a result of a chain of poor decisions.

Become familiar with the area your hiking.
Check the weather right up to the moment you leave.
Bring enough food/water/shelter to survive 3 days.
Bring lights and extra batteries.
Know your limits.
Plan your trip around the most vulnerable person in the party.

Don’t rely on electronic devices.
Let people know where your going and when to send help if they can’t get ahold of you.

They could have filtered that crappy river water and had plenty of water to sit tight till evening when it cooled off and they were rested. Problem is they pushed it till they all had heat exhaustion at the same time which clouded their already poor judgement.

I’ll take something away from this story. A reminder to do better when in the wilderness.
 

Tesorodeoro

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Not intended for any particular person.If you lay down witty written verse you should probably expect the same in response.Maybe weird,but we engage in that all the time here in person.Makes for lively arguments.
Well there is a difference between a respectful back and forth mental flex and insulting your “adversary”. That’s where the moderators draw the line.
 

crashbandicoot

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It’s so much more than poor weather.
Ya it was the elements that got them in the end, but it really was a tragic and unfortunate event that happened only as a result of a chain of poor decisions.

Become familiar with the area your hiking.
Check the weather right up to the moment you leave.
Bring enough food/water/shelter to survive 3 days.
Bring lights and extra batteries.
Know your limits.
Plan your trip around the most vulnerable person in the party.

Don’t rely on electronic devices.
Let people know where your going and when to send help if they can’t get ahold of you.

They could have filtered that crappy river water and had plenty of water to sit tight till evening when it cooled off and they were rested. Problem is they pushed it till they all had heat exhaustion at the same time which clouded their already poor judgement.

I’ll take something away from this story. A reminder to do better when in the wilderness.
Again,I,ll agree with everything here.
 

GoDeep

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Result of a chain of poor decisions.

Know your limits.
You hit it on the head there, combine those two with the weather like Treasure Hunter said (some reports say it was 107F, other 109F). Regardless, it's a deadly tri-bination. Kind of a pun there, i mean, not boss level like Treasure Hunter of course.
 

Treasure_Hunter

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You hit it on the head there, combine those two with the weather like Treasure Hunter said (some reports say it was 107F, other 109F). Regardless, it's a deadly tri-bination. Kind of a pun there, i mean, not boss level like Treasure Hunter of course.
Anyone planning on hicking that far should always carry double the required water just in case and also carry water portable purification means, they are now very cheap and easy to carry.

Patriot example below.

Breakthrough filter technology inside the Patriot Pure Personal Water Filter removes up to 99.9% of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Cholera bacteria, Legionella and other pathogenic bacteria.*

    • Fits in the palm of your hand
    • Removes up to 99.9% of germs*
    • Filters up to 528 gallons
    • Impact-resistant
    • Easy to use; works in seconds
    • Includes tools & gravity filtration
    • 100% Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee

ARRAY-PWF1-1024x1024_700x700.jpg
 

Tesorodeoro

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Anyone planning on hicking that far should always carry double the required water just in case and also carry water portable purification means, they are now very cheap and easy to carry.

Patriot example below.

Breakthrough filter technology inside the Patriot Pure Personal Water Filter removes up to 99.9% of Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella typhi, Cholera bacteria, Legionella and other pathogenic bacteria.*

    • Fits in the palm of your hand
    • Removes up to 99.9% of germs*
    • Filters up to 528 gallons
    • Impact-resistant
    • Easy to use; works in seconds
    • Includes tools & gravity filtration
    • 100% Money-Back Satisfaction Guarantee

ARRAY-PWF1-1024x1024_700x700.jpg
Is that a pump, straw, or gravity? I’d like a pump filter so I could fill up bottles..
 

Treasure_Hunter

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Is that a pump, straw, or gravity? I’d like a pump filter so I could fill up bottles..
The website says it is gravity. You can screw it on a water bottle that you filled from a lake, pond, puddle, and then drink it, water flows through the filter. You can also use it as a straw with the hose.

 

Phil

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"Autopsies performed on the family and a dog necropsy were deemed inconclusive. Investigators have worked with toxicologists, environmental specialists and other experts."

"This is, again, an unfortunate and tragic event due to the weather," he said. "Heat-related deaths are extremely difficult to investigate."

The official cause of death is still unknown with absolute certainty. Their best theory is heat-related.
 

pepperj

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One has to really when out hiking that anything can happen when exerting the body in heat/cold.
Yet it seems that so many go out for a moderate hiking trip with a water supply of what one would bring to the park.
In the early 90's we invested in a Katadyn Ceramic filter system. Probably one of the best investments we made at the time.
First used it on the Napoli coastline hike-ran into folks on the trail system begging for water-500mil. bottle for the Multi day(s)trip.
One feels compassion for their plight-but really how stupid can one be also setting out-without adequate food or water.
We pumped their container full, and tell them how they should rethink their hike.
Beaver fever/Giardiasis is a well known water parasitic infection that is in most of the waters on trails that we traversed from Hawaii to Nepal.
Like I used to say "Don't leave home without it" (plastic doesn't work out in the wilds)
E26B9D75-F722-4EE5-B2C2-7BFF7E4951AD.jpeg
 

Red-Coat

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A few other things have emerged relating to their preparedness for the excursion (or rather lack of it).

They were travelling light. Apart from the CamelBak water bladder and the backpack carrier for the baby, no other carry pack was found and nothing to suggest they planned a picnic lunch by the river or anything of that sort. They had a few snacks and a bottle containing baby formula (presumably tucked into a pouch on the baby carrier) but that was it. No additional clothing beyond the minimal items they were wearing. Everything points to the probability they intended it to be a short “in-and-out” hike, returning before the mid-day heat. Perhaps their original intent was to do no more than scope out the trails for a more extensive hike on a future occasion (speculation).

Ms Chung did not have her cellphone with her. They had only Mr Gerrish’s phone and no signal was obtainable where they were found. It’s possible they might have obtained a signal if one of them had gone off the trail to climb to higher ground, but there was no footprint evidence to suggest such an attempt. The keys to their truck being found on the short section of the dirt path between the two adult bodies is unexplained. There was speculation (nothing more) that there might have been a “take the keys and go” moment, with the more able of the two being urged to go for help and either being incapable or unwilling to leave the other. It would fit a scenario where two exhausted people had their collective progress further impeded by something the autopsies would not necessarily have revealed… one of them having twisted their ankle for example, or the dog having collapsed. Just speculation.

The maximum 2.5 litres of water they had between them would have had to cover the dog’s needs as well as their own. Certainly not enough for a long hike in those temperatures in exposed sun. There was no bowl for the dog to drink from. It would have been possible to meet the dog’s needs directly from the CamelBak but potentially wasting further water by spillage. Drinking to keep hydrated does not in itself give protection from heat exhaustion when the sun is beating down on you. Any water usage on their exposed skin to try and keep cool would also have eroded the amount available for keeping hydrated.

There is confusion about whether any water remained in the CamelBak because the words used in the official statements were taken too literally in subsequent press reports. The bladder was virtually empty in the sense that a small trickle remained which provided a large enough sample for toxicology. Not virtually empty in the sense that a feasible amount for drinking could have still been obtained from it.

If they had any expectation that the dog’s needs (or even their own needs) could be met in part by drinking from or splashing in the river (if they reached it), there was no evidence that this had happened. Although the river sections of the trail were subsequently closed in relation to Anatoxin-A contamination, there were already signs warning of the possibility of harmful algal bloom posted at the main access areas to the river, advising against people or their pets swimming in or drinking the water. If they had seen such signs they may have been discouraged from any reliance on the river to supplement their needs.

Amateur sleuths immediately began digging into Mr Gerrish’s and Ms Chung’s social media accounts before they were taken off-line shortly after the bodies were found. Some of those sleuths concluded that Mr Gerrish was an adventurous hiker and perhaps no stranger to “pushing the envelope”. The couple had previously hiked in the Himalayas where there was reference to some sort of life-threatening situation regarding heat or lack of water and reference to a trek through the Gobi Desert that turned out to be more strenuous than expected, despite them being part of a larger group with support staff and supplies. Since moving to Mariposa County they had been on several hikes, at least a couple of which involved steep descents and ascents back up from canyons, but nothing as arduous as their last hike. Mr Gerrish had been using an app called “AllTrails” and they had shared some maps from it:

https://www.alltrails.com/

Although not confirmed in official statements, the particular terminology used by the formal investigators led the amateur sleuths to conclude that Mr Gerrish had switched to using the more sophisticated “onX” app for his latest “research”, such as it was.

https://www.onxmaps.com/

The app provides a basic map of the selected area, onto which you can overlay your intended route, with additional features if you wish, and then save it on your account as “your” map. There are more options if you upgrade to a “pro-account”, including things such as colour codes to show the difficulty of the individual trails along the route, the elevation, and the weather forecast. The formal investigators (presumably having been given access to his account by the software providers) seemingly concluded that Mr Gerrish had not created a map for this particular hike with that degree of sophistication or detail… and had only created his map the night before. It appears he may have only recently begun using the onX app (rather than AllTrails as previously) and perhaps wasn't yet familiarised with how to get the best from it. If he had utilised the full capabilities of the app, it should have been apparent that the route between the way points he had entered was really not a viable option for a short morning out with a small child and a dog, carrying minimal essentials… and especially not in the temperatures encountered later in the day.

It has been reported that the Mariposa Gazette plans to publish a more detailed feature-length article on 28th October, so it should be appearing here very soon:

https://www.mariposagazette.com/
 
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Goldwasher

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they hiked near the river it is weird that the dog didn't swim and drink...
as far as heat at 107 to 109. On a south facing slope the heat index would be pretty dang high.

I get hat Clay is saying but...

My feeling is the baby was having issues they figured up the switchbacks was quickest and they made a go for it.

maybe the extra exertion did it.

However, it is also weird that the last parent alive didnt come back to the Dad and baby...or did she die first and they didn't catch up before expiring.

I do not understand how they didnt just go back to the river and wait for the sun to drop.

Nothing about the details makes the suddeness they are claiming seem logical.
 

Red-Coat

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they hiked near the river it is weird that the dog didn't swim and drink...
as far as heat at 107 to 109. On a south facing slope the heat index would be pretty dang high.

I get hat Clay is saying but...

My feeling is the baby was having issues they figured up the switchbacks was quickest and they made a go for it.

maybe the extra exertion did it.

However, it is also weird that the last parent alive didnt come back to the Dad and baby...or did she die first and they didn't catch up before expiring.

I do not understand how they didnt just go back to the river and wait for the sun to drop.

Nothing about the details makes the suddeness they are claiming seem logical.

Although the trails would have taken them down to the river area, there is (as yet) no evidence that they actually reached it. Only an absence of evidence that either they or the dog availed themselves of its water.

It hasn’t been stated exactly where the warning signs about the possibility of toxic algal blooms in the river were positioned, but they may well have seen such a sign on approach to the river, recognised the implications, and turned back without allowing the dog to reach it either.

If they had actually got that far their own meagre water supply would already have reached the point where it was exhausted or insufficient for the return leg (by any route). If they had begun rationing it to conserve the supply, they would have quickly become dehydrated and potentially disoriented. Retreating to the river and waiting would also have run them out of water unless they were prepared to drink it unfiltered from the river and also give it to their baby.

In simple terms, they didn’t have suitable clothing or equipment for a journey of that duration or challenge in full sun conditions of extreme heat, and had insufficient water to stave off dehydration. It’s worth repeating that the formal verdict on cause of death was "hyperthermia and probable dehydration" (my emphasis). That is, it was the heat and the sun which got them, and the inadequate intake of water likely contributed.

One other thing worth mentioning is that Ms Chung, who was only 30 years old, had said in one of her social media posts that she had to give up her corporate career because of an unspecified illness. Whether it was the kind of illness that could have impacted on her hiking abilities or heat tolerance is not known, but she was reportedly subsequently working as a yoga teacher.
 
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crashbandicoot

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If you don,t know the symptoms of hyperthermia,run do not walk to the nearest website and learn them.Be aware that one of the first is confusion,right when you may need to make life saving decisions,your own body can impair that.The best knowledge is to know your own limitations as matched against the deed you want to undertake,minus your ego telling you otherwise.Be prepared for the worst is always a good guide.
 

Tesorodeoro

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A few other things have emerged relating to their preparedness for the excursion (or rather lack of it).

They were travelling light. Apart from the CamelBak water bladder and the backpack carrier for the baby, no other carry pack was found and nothing to suggest they planned a picnic lunch by the river or anything of that sort. They had a few snacks and a bottle containing baby formula (presumably tucked into a pouch on the baby carrier) but that was it. No additional clothing beyond the minimal items they were wearing. Everything points to the probability they intended it to be a short “in-and-out” hike, returning before the mid-day heat. Perhaps their original intent was to do no more than scope out the trails for a more extensive hike on a future occasion (speculation).

Ms Chung did not have her cellphone with her. They had only Mr Gerrish’s phone and no signal was obtainable where they were found. It’s possible they might have obtained a signal if one of them had gone off the trail to climb to higher ground, but there was no footprint evidence to suggest such an attempt. The keys to their truck being found on the short section of the dirt path between the two adult bodies is unexplained. There was speculation (nothing more) that there might have been a “take the keys and go” moment, with the more able of the two being urged to go for help and either being incapable or unwilling to leave the other. It would fit a scenario where two exhausted people had their collective progress further impeded by something the autopsies would not necessarily have revealed… one of them having twisted their ankle for example, or the dog having collapsed. Just speculation.

The maximum 2.5 litres of water they had between them would have had to cover the dog’s needs as well as their own. Certainly not enough for a long hike in those temperatures in exposed sun. There was no bowl for the dog to drink from. It would have been possible to meet the dog’s needs directly from the CamelBak but potentially wasting further water by spillage. Drinking to keep hydrated does not in itself give protection from heat exhaustion when the sun is beating down on you. Any water usage on their exposed skin to try and keep cool would also have eroded the amount available for keeping hydrated.

There is confusion about whether any water remained in the CamelBak because the words used in the official statements were taken too literally in subsequent press reports. The bladder was virtually empty in the sense that a small trickle remained which provided a large enough sample for toxicology. Not virtually empty in the sense that a feasible amount for drinking could have still been obtained from it.

If they had any expectation that the dog’s needs (or even their own needs) could be met in part by drinking from or splashing in the river (if they reached it), there was no evidence that this had happened. Although the river sections of the trail were subsequently closed in relation to Anatoxin-A contamination, there were already signs warning of the possibility of harmful algal bloom posted at the main access areas to the river, advising against people or their pets swimming in or drinking the water. If they had seen such signs they may have been discouraged from any reliance on the river to supplement their needs.

Amateur sleuths immediately began digging into Mr Gerrish’s and Ms Chung’s social media accounts before they were taken off-line shortly after the bodies were found. Some of those sleuths concluded that Mr Gerrish was an adventurous hiker and perhaps no stranger to “pushing the envelope”. The couple had previously hiked in the Himalayas where there was reference to some sort of life-threatening situation regarding heat or lack of water and reference to a trek through the Gobi Desert that turned out to be more strenuous than expected, despite them being part of a larger group with support staff and supplies. Since moving to Mariposa County they had been on several hikes, at least a couple of which involved steep descents and ascents back up from canyons, but nothing as arduous as their last hike. Mr Gerrish had been using an app called “AllTrails” and they had shared some maps from it:

https://www.alltrails.com/

Although not confirmed in official statements, the particular terminology used by the formal investigators led the amateur sleuths to conclude that Mr Gerrish had switched to using the more sophisticated “onX” app for his latest “research”, such as it was.

https://www.onxmaps.com/

The app provides a basic map of the selected area, onto which you can overlay your intended route, with additional features if you wish, and then save it on your account as “your” map. There are more options if you upgrade to a “pro-account”, including things such as colour codes to show the difficulty of the individual trails along the route, the elevation, and the weather forecast. The formal investigators (presumably having been given access to his account by the software providers) seemingly concluded that Mr Gerrish had not created a map for this particular hike with that degree of sophistication or detail… and had only created his map the night before. It appears he may have only recently begun using the onX app (rather than AllTrails as previously) and perhaps wasn't yet familiarised with how to get the best from it. If he had utilised the full capabilities of the app, it should have been apparent that the route between the way points he had entered was really not a viable option for a short morning out with a small child and a dog, carrying minimal essentials… and especially not in the temperatures encountered later in the day.

It has been reported that the Mariposa Gazette plans to publish a more detailed feature-length article on 28th October, so it should be appearing here very soon:

https://www.mariposagazette.com/
A lot of speculation in that post. This is how treasure legends are started. Again, pleasurable reading - but a lot of conjecture.
Per the “Onx” app. It’s would be more than enough to plan a trip like that (I use the basic version). If the guy didn’t want to spend the $29.95 for the basic version, he would not have access to all of the tools. The Pro version just includes all states instead of just one. I routinely use On-x to supplement my paper maps.

You can get as fancy as you want, but both people made many poor decisions. Its difficult for me to decide which ones were more important…the ones made while of sane mind, or the ones that sealed their fate while they were suffering heat exhaustion.
 

Goldwasher

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Although the trails would have taken them down to the river area, there is (as yet) no evidence that they actually reached it. Only an absence of evidence that either they or the dog availed themselves of its water.

It hasn’t been stated exactly where the warning signs about the possibility of toxic algal blooms in the river were positioned, but they may well have seen such a sign on approach to the river, recognised the implications, and turned back without allowing the dog to reach it either.

If they had actually got that far their own meagre water supply would already have reached the point where it was exhausted or insufficient for the return leg (by any route). If they had begun rationing it to conserve the supply, they would have quickly become dehydrated and potentially disoriented. Retreating to the river and waiting would also have run them out of water unless they were prepared to drink it unfiltered from the river and also give it to their baby.

In simple terms, they didn’t have suitable clothing or equipment for a journey of that duration or challenge in full sun conditions of extreme heat, and had insufficient water to stave off dehydration. It’s worth repeating that the formal verdict on cause of death was "hyperthermia and probable dehydration" (my emphasis). That is, it was the heat and the sun which got them, and the inadequate intake of water likely contributed.

One other thing worth mentioning is that Ms Chung, who was only 30 years old, had said in one of her social media posts that she had to give up her corporate career because of an unspecified illness. Whether it was the kind of illness that could have impacted on her hiking abilities or heat tolerance is not known, but she was reportedly subsequently working as a yoga teacher.
not true.. they were on a loop trail and had passed the river already.. they would have had to turn back. They were most of the way through the hike.
 

mytimetoshine

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not true.. they were on a loop trail and had passed the river already.. they would have had to turn back. They were most of the way through the hike.
Agree. They had to have been at the River at some point. I still cant understand why they even brought the baby. He had a hiking trail app, which wont keep you alive by any means but if you have that, then im sure you check the weather forecast before you go out. And every app is going to to you distance and elevation of your route. If you google search that trail , nowhere does it imply "easy" - so a bad idea in the first place, followed up by a string of poor choices. Maybe the baby was stressing so they did wait by the river for a little while but could never get a signal and then panicked hiked at the worst part of the day and the hardest part of the trail. Still doesn't explain the dog but i guess we will never know. Very sad!
 

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