Couple, Baby & Dog Found Dead After Mysterious Hiking Incident

by Christina Marfice
CBS News/Youtube

Authorities are treating the site as a potential hazmat concern after a young couple, their 1-year-old daughter, and their dog were all found dead while hiking

A young couple, their one-year-old daughter, and their dog — all of whom were reported missing after they didn’t return home from a hike — have been found dead. Their bodies were found in a remote area of the mountains in Central California. But here’s the terrifying part: Authorities have no idea what caused their deaths.

Search teams located the bodies of John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their infant daughter, Miju, and their family dog on Tuesday in an area called Devil’s Gulch. Rescuers had also been able to locate the family’s car, parked near a gated entrance to the Sierra Nevada National Forest, just about a mile from where the bodies were found. But in a statement to the public, police explained that they don’t have any information yet about why the entire family — even the dog — died while hiking.

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

Police say all three people and the dog were found with no signs of trauma or wounds on their bodies. Officials are investigating possible causes for the deaths, and have said they’re treating the site as a hazmat investigation. They’ve also involved the county coroner to help investigate and identify why the family died.

“It could be a carbon monoxide situation. That’s one of the reasons why we’re treating it as a hazmat situation,” Kristie Mitchell, a spokesperson with the sheriff’s office, told reporters. “We aren’t ruling anything out at this point.”

According to reports, the young family had gone out hiking on Sunday. But on Monday, Gerrish, who works as a software engineer, didn’t show up for work. A nanny who watched Miju for the family said no one answered the door when she rang the bell. A missing persons report was filed and search teams began to look for the family.

A family friend told reporters that Gerrish, who was from England, and Chung, who was from Southern California, moved from San Francisco to a more remote part of the state during the pandemic. He said they wanted to raise their daughter somewhere more serene and away from the city.