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Investigators mystified by death of family in Sierra National Forest

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Post by Ben Reilly Sat Sep 04, 2021 11:26 pm

The couple had backpacked in the Himalayas, ridden camels through the Gobi Desert and checked off Burning Man, even creating their own hashtag, an amalgamation of their first names: #jellonadventures.

So a day of hiking in the Sierra National Forest, even with the demanding switchbacks and triple-digit heat, would not have been unusual for Jonathan Gerrish and Ellen Chung, husband-and-wife transplants from San Francisco who had recently become parents to a little girl, Miju, during the coronavirus pandemic.

But the trek would be the family’s last: Search teams found all three of their bodies on Aug. 17, one day after the family was reported missing not far from Yosemite National Park. The family’s dog, Oski, an Aussie-Akita mix, was also found dead.

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More than two weeks later, investigators are still confounded by what caused their deaths. Teams in hazmat suits had already combed the area for clues. On Saturday, the U.S. Forest Service closed trails and recreation sites near where the bodies were found.

The Forest Service had previously posted warning signs about potentially toxic algae blooms in the area. The agency said it had taken the step to “protect the public from unknown hazards.”

That development further disconcerted those who knew the family, including Steven Jeffe, a friend and neighbor in Mariposa, California.

“It’s mysterious,” Jeffe said in an interview Wednesday, “the unknown of what danger possibly lies there.”

Jeffe said he became friends with the couple when all of them lived in San Francisco. He described Gerrish, a software engineer born in Britain, and Chung, a graduate student in family therapy who had worked as a yoga instructor, as outdoor types who were experienced hikers.

Gerrish, 45, had worked as a software engineer for Google, according to his LinkedIn profile. Most recently, he had worked for Snapchat, according to Jeffe. Chung, 30, was raised in Southern California, Jeffe said.

“It’s such a beautiful family,” Jeffe said. “It’s obviously so devastating.”

Initial autopsy results have provided no answers to authorities. Investigators said that there were no signs of trauma and that they were investigating possible lightning strikes in the area.

https://news.yahoo.com/familys-death-sierra-national-forest-185220163.html?guccounter=1

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Post by eddie Sat Sep 04, 2021 11:31 pm

So weird! Autopsies revealed nothing....

Any suggestions?

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Post by gelico Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:05 am



Nada

know nothing about forensics but i can't help but think that if they had been struck by lightening the autopsy would've shown that, no?


.'' Investigators said that there were no signs of trauma and that they were investigating possible lightning strikes in the area.''

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Post by eddie Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:10 am

gelico wrote:

Nada

know nothing about forensics but i can't help but think that if they had been struck by lightening the autopsy would've shown that, no?


.'' Investigators said that there were no signs of trauma and that they were investigating possible lightning strikes in the area.''


Exactly. Lightening striking all of them and killing them? Not impossible but not likely. Plus, the bodies would show severe burns, which they didn’t.

Very strange.

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Post by gelico Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:19 am

eddie wrote:
gelico wrote:

Nada

know nothing about forensics but i can't help but think that if they had been struck by lightening the autopsy would've shown that, no?


.'' Investigators said that there were no signs of trauma and that they were investigating possible lightning strikes in the area.''


Exactly. Lightening striking all of them and killing them? Not impossible but not likely. Plus, the bodies would show severe burns, which they didn’t.

Very strange.


that's what i would have thought

even if lightening had struck a few metres away and the impact had blasted them back/forward or whatever but not directly burning them. even so it would have still been obvious to any kind of expert that that's what had happened.

'investigating lightening strikes' sounds like some kind of vague ''we have no fucking idea so just say anything''


there's always a weird feeling in me about deaths that are unexplained

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Post by eddie Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:22 am

Gels I totally agree! It’s definitely odd.

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Post by Syl Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:23 am

Could be poisoning, possibly from infected water, something adults, baby, and dog all consumed.
And if it was, further tests will find out exactly what and how.

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Post by eddie Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:24 am

Syl wrote:Could be poisoning,  possibly from infected water, something adults, baby, and dog all consumed.
And if it was, further tests will find out exactly what and how.

Autopsies have been done. Surely coroners would have looked at the contents of their stomach?

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Post by gelico Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:32 am

eddie wrote:
Syl wrote:Could be poisoning,  possibly from infected water, something adults, baby, and dog all consumed.
And if it was, further tests will find out exactly what and how.

Autopsies have been done. Surely coroners would have looked at the contents of their stomach?


well it did say ''Initial'' autopsy reports showed no obvious cause of death

if there is no obvious cause they have to do further tests, stomach contents, blood results etc possibly even examining the brain


a good friend of mine lost his eldest son in mysterious circumstances. he never did get answers

not good






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Post by Syl Sun Sep 05, 2021 12:35 am

eddie wrote:
Syl wrote:Could be poisoning,  possibly from infected water, something adults, baby, and dog all consumed.
And if it was, further tests will find out exactly what and how.

Autopsies have been done. Surely coroners would have looked at the contents of their stomach?

Some poisons are hard to trace, but if it was that, I'm sure it'll be traced with further tests.
Interesting, I hope there will be follow up reports.

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Post by Tommy Monk Sun Sep 05, 2021 4:25 am



Lightning can strike close by people and kill them, without being a direct hit 'flash and burn' type scenario that is so often depicted on TV/film etc.



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Post by Maddog Sun Sep 05, 2021 3:07 pm

Sounds like something in some water. Maybe they filtered some to drink, and their filter was defective. Whatever it was killed the dog too, which is bizarre.

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Post by Syl Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:48 pm

Maddog wrote:Sounds like something in some water. Maybe they filtered some to drink, and their filter was defective. Whatever it was killed the dog too, which is bizarre.

I said similar, if there are no signs of bodily trauma it sounds like the most obvious answer to me....especially as the dog and baby have died also.

It's a terrible tragedy.

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Post by Maddog Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:52 pm

Syl wrote:
Maddog wrote:Sounds like something in some water. Maybe they filtered some to drink, and their filter was defective. Whatever it was killed the dog too, which is bizarre.

I said similar, if there are no signs of bodily trauma it sounds like the most obvious answer to me....especially as the dog and baby have died also.

It's a terrible tragedy.

Unless it was some weird murder/suicide thing that included the dog.

These were well educated people. They could have used some strange compound that wouldn't show up in a preliminary autopsy I guess.

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Post by Syl Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:55 pm

Maddog wrote:
Syl wrote:

I said similar, if there are no signs of bodily trauma it sounds like the most obvious answer to me....especially as the dog and baby have died also.

It's a terrible tragedy.

Unless it was some weird murder/suicide thing that included the dog.  

These were well educated people. They could have used some strange compound that wouldn't show up in a preliminary autopsy I guess.

I doubt it, but I'm sure if it is anything that has been ingested, it'll show up as further tests are done.

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Post by Maddog Sun Sep 05, 2021 6:59 pm

I wonder if they had cell service? Were there attempted calls on their phones? If they didn't call 911, it couldn't be poisonous water or something like that. They would have gotten ill first and attempted to call for help.

Lighting causes burns and other trauma to the body, especially internally. I just don't see how it could be that. Plus there would be evidence of a lightning strike nearby.

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Post by Syl Sun Sep 05, 2021 7:19 pm

Maddog wrote:I wonder if they had cell service? Were there attempted calls on their phones? If they didn't call 911, it couldn't be poisonous water or something like that. They would have gotten ill first and attempted to call for help.  

Lighting causes burns and other trauma to the body, especially internally. I just don't see how it could be that. Plus there would be evidence of a lightning strike nearby.  

It could have happened as they slept, maybe some kind of carbon monoxide poisoning that hasn't shown up in tests as yet.

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Post by Maddog Sun Sep 05, 2021 9:29 pm

Syl wrote:
Maddog wrote:I wonder if they had cell service? Were there attempted calls on their phones? If they didn't call 911, it couldn't be poisonous water or something like that. They would have gotten ill first and attempted to call for help.  

Lighting causes burns and other trauma to the body, especially internally. I just don't see how it could be that. Plus there would be evidence of a lightning strike nearby.  

It could have happened as they slept, maybe some kind of carbon monoxide poisoning that hasn't shown up in tests as yet.

Possibly, but I don't think this was a back packing trip, but a day hike.

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Post by Maddog Sun Sep 05, 2021 9:30 pm

After reading it again, I'm sure it was a day hike. They didn't go to sleep.

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Post by Vintage Sun Sep 05, 2021 10:21 pm

They all including the dog must have ate or drank the same thing or stepped into fumes at the same time. If there was a dried pool of algae large enough for them all to step in at once and break the crust and release enough hydrogen sulphide, which can kill pretty quickly apparently, I imagine it would be obvious to anyone investigating also I think it would show up in autopsy, seems unlikely to have that on any paths though.
There was a lot of this stuff dried out on the coast of Brittany and everyone was told to stay well away. Looks like fumes and very fast if found together. I hope they can solve this.

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Post by HoratioTarr Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:43 am

I read recently about a case of people dying because of an overpopulation of a species of wild mouse. I can't for the life of me remember the article but it killed them really quickly and was something to do with inhalation of some kind of toxin released from this creature due to the dry dusty terrain and the droppings.
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Post by Maddog Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:44 am

HoratioTarr wrote:I read recently about a case of people dying because of an overpopulation of a species of wild mouse.  I can't for the life of me remember the article but it killed them really quickly and was something to do with inhalation of some kind of toxin released from this creature due to the dry dusty terrain and the droppings.

I remember that.
I think ot was from caves or old abandoned buildings.

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Post by Maddog Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:47 am

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hantavirus-pulmonary-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351838


But this still takes days. It's like catching covid.

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Post by Syl Mon Sep 06, 2021 12:56 am

Maddog wrote:https://www.mayoclinic.org/disteases-conditions/hantavirus-pulmonary-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20351838


But this still takes days. It's like catching covid.

It doesn't affect dogs in the same way anyway.

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Post by HoratioTarr Wed Sep 08, 2021 2:34 pm

Maddog wrote:
HoratioTarr wrote:I read recently about a case of people dying because of an overpopulation of a species of wild mouse.  I can't for the life of me remember the article but it killed them really quickly and was something to do with inhalation of some kind of toxin released from this creature due to the dry dusty terrain and the droppings.

I remember that.
I think ot was from caves or old abandoned buildings.

No, it was something to do with dust and very dry weather, that mixed with the high population of this particular rodent and caused a toxic dust that when inhaled killed really quickly. I'm damned if I can remember where I saw it. It'll come to me.
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Post by Ben Reilly Fri Sep 10, 2021 9:31 pm

Looks like investigators are turning to look more closely into the possibility that it was a "freak" lightning strike -- so I suppose it's at least possible that lightning can kill you without leaving a mark.

The sherriff in charge of the investigation says it's the most myserious case he's seen in his entire life.

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