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Mystery Deepens as Hiking Trail Where California Family Was Found Dead is Closed Due to ‘Unknown Hazards’

Park officials in California have closed off multiple areas of Sierra National Forest after a young family and their dog were found dead on a trail there last month.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, John Gerrish, 45; his wife Ellen Chung, 31; their 1-year-old daughter, Muji, and the family dog were found dead on the morning of August 17. The family had reportedly planned to go on a day hike two days before, a Sunday; and a friend reported them missing when they didn’t return.

The bodies were found on a trail near Hite’s Cove, with no visible signs of trauma. NBC News reports that the area where the family was found does not have cell phone reception. Investigators are still working to determine the family’s cause of death, but have ruled out acute trauma (such as a gunshot or a stab wound) along with some potential chemical hazards investigators had initially suspected could have contributed to the family’s death.

“ALL other potential causes of death remain,” a spokesperson for the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said last week.

CBS News reports that federal park officials have closed the trail where the family was found, along with several additional recreational areas and trailheads. Park officials reportedly cited “unknown hazards found in and near the Savage Lundy Trail.” The areas are expected to be closed for a month, and those who violate the order could face a fine of up to $10,000.

As previously reported, the family found dead appeared to be very happy with a recent move to Mariposa from the San Francisco area. There is no indication that the couple had any domestic issues. By all available accounts, the family was thriving.

“This is a very unusual, unique situation,” the sheriff’s spokesperson said last week, “There were no signs of trauma, no obvious cause of death. There was no suicide note.”

The investigation to determine the cause of the family’s death remains active.

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