Breaking News
Home » Community » Mariposa Sheriff’s Office Update on the Gerrish – Chung Family

Mariposa Sheriff’s Office Update on the Gerrish – Chung Family

Mariposa – As of the date of this update cause of death remains a question. Detectives continue conducting interviews and investigating all potential possible explanations for the death of the Gerrish / Chung family.

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office began a Search and Rescue operation after a family was reported missing Monday night August 16th at 11pm.

Search teams located the family’s vehicle near the Sierra National Forest gate leading to Hites Cove in the Jerseydale area. A short time later the family; John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, one year old daughter Miju and the family dog, Oski were located deceased near the Devil’s Gulch area in the Southfork of the Merced River drainage.

Sheriff personnel with the assistance of the California Department of Justice are conducting the investigation and processing the area. Current scene information does not indicate a clear picture of what occurred or a clear cause of death, the scene is currently being handled as a hazmat and coroner investigation.

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

Additional details will be released as the investigation progresses.

Family Information –

Jonathan Gerrish – age 45

Ellen Chung – age 30

Aurelia Miju Chung – Gerrish – age 1

K9-Oski – Aussie/Akita mix – 8 years old

Sequence of Events –

8/14/2021 – John Gerrish researches Hites Cove hike via phone app

8/15/2021 7:45 am – Witness sees Gerrish/Chung family traveling towards the trail head in their vehicle

8/16/2021 11 pm – Family friend reports family missing

8/17/2021 1:53 am – Family car located

8/17/2021 1:55 am – Search and Rescue Mission Initiated

8/17/2021 11 am – Family Located by Search and Rescue

8/19/2021 – Autopsies completed on Family and Dog- All currently pending toxicology

8/20/2021 – Search warrants issued for phone found with family

8/20/2021 – Search warrants issued for family home and cars- nothing significant located

8/23/2021 – Additional water samples collected from water sources along the trail area

8/24/2021 – Cell phone delivered to FBI for data extraction- Awaiting results

8/25/2021 – Search Warrants issued for possible social media access

Trail Information – 

Hites Cove Rd – Savage Lundy Trail located Inside the Ferguson Fire (2018) footprint.

Entire Trail Loop is approx. 8.5 miles – 5 miles of the trail consists of a steep southern exposure path with little to no trees or shade.

Spot Weather for the area indicates temperatures during 11:50 am – 5:50 pm ranged between 103-109 degrees in certain areas of the trail.

Additional Testing / Tox- No results received as of the date of this update. Timeline for results of testing pending –

Gerrish/Chung toxicology sent to labs.

K-9 Samples sent to multiple labs.

Multiple Water samples taken in the area and of water the family had with them. Samples sent to both State Water Board and independent laps for testing.

Further assistance for additional testing is being coordinated with CDC and Office of Environmental Health Hazards Assessment.

Causes of Death Ruled Out: The following have been ruled out based on evidence recovered or through investigation. ALL other potential causes of death remain.

Gun or any other type of weapon.

Chemical hazards along the Savage Lundy trail.

Quote/ Statements –

“We know the family and friends of John and Ellen are desperate for answers, our team of Detectives are working round the clock. Cases like this require us to be methodical and thorough while also reaching out to every resource we can find to help us bring those answers to them as quickly as we can.” ` Sheriff Jeremy Briese

Original Press Release –

MISSING FAMILY FOUND DECEASED

The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office began a Search and Rescue operation after a family was reported missing Monday night August 16th at 11 pm.

Search teams located the family’s vehicle near the Sierra National Forest gate leading to Hites Cove in the Jerseydale area. A short time later the family; John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, one year old daughter Miju and the family dog, Oski were located deceased near the Devil’s Gulch area in the Southfork of the Merced River drainage.

Sheriff personnel with the assistance of the California Department of Justice are conducting the investigation and processing the area. Current scene information does not indicate a clear picture of what occurred or a clear cause of death, the scene is currently being handled as a hazmat and coroner investigation.

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

Additional details will be released as the investigation progresses.

One comment

  1. I continue to be surprised at the comments by authorities who wonder if it was poison gas, algae, snake bites, etc. This article tells you all you need to know – it was 8.5 miles, the majority in steep, burnt-out terrain, and it was approximately 105 degrees during the time-frame they would have been walking up that steep, shadeless slope. There are countless stories of people – sometimes experienced hikers – misjudging distances and their ability to handle the heat. So sad this happened.

Leave a Reply

Sierra News Online

Sierra News Online