Craig Colerus / AP
A local sheriff who led the investigation said a family in Northern California, who found a mysterious death on a Sierra hiking trail in August, was likely to have died from a combination of hyperthermia and dehydration.
The news sheds light on an incident that confused investigators and the general public and raised new questions about outdoor recreational activities in an era of rising temperatures and extreme weather.
“This is a real tragedy,” Mariposa County Sheriff-Coroner Jeremy Breeze said at a press conference Thursday. “Unfortunate and tragic events due to the weather.”
Married couple Jonathan Gerish and Ellen Chung, 1-year-old daughter Miju, and pet dog Osuki, On August 17, everyone was found dead on a steep switchback trail about 1.5 miles from where they parked their car. The family was hiking along the Hites Cove Trail in the Sierra National Forest near the Merced River. They were reported missing by a friend.
Authorities were confused for weeks about what killed the family
The day was very hot, with local temperatures reaching 107-109 degrees Celsius, the investigators said. The hiking trails contained steep and somewhat difficult terrain. According to Breeze, the family had an 85-ounce water bag backpack, snacks, and a bottle of infant formula. He said the bladder was empty when the body was found.
Experts warn that this is a rare event that can become more routine given the rise in temperature due to anthropogenic climate change. Some western states have reported record heat this summer. A record-breaking “heat dome” struck Oregon and Washington, killing at least 100 people. But probably much.. In Portland, Oregon, temperatures reached 108, 112, and 116 degrees Celsius for three consecutive days in June.
Hyperthermia, often referred to as “heat stroke,” is usually due to abnormally high body temperature due to exposure and excessive exercise. The body cannot regulate its temperature to cool it. In some cases, it can damage a person’s heart, brain, lungs and other important organs, causing injury or death.
For weeks, police and national forest investigators were confused about what killed their families. They investigated and ruled out a variety of possibilities, including lightning strikes, potentially toxic gases from abandoned mines, suicide, weapons, and fraud.
According to a friend, the recent transplant of the gold rush from San Francisco to the old town of Mariposa in the hills of western Sierra was a relatively experienced hiker on a day trip with a baby and a dog.
The previous major theory was that exposure to water contaminated with toxic blue-green algae could have been a major factor. Water not far from the trail was later tested positive for toxic algae, including anatoxin-a (also known as Very Fast Death Factor (VFDF)).
Death caused “indescribable pain”
Breeze addressed that Thursday.
“There is no evidence that Jonathan, Ellen, and Miju have ingested the water,” he said. “We also know that no human deaths associated with anatoxin-a have been reported.”
Sheriffs said toxicology and coroner reports confirmed his findings that a family of three died from heat-related stress. The cause of death for the dog has not been identified, but Breeze said he believes fever is also a major factor.
In a statement read by the deputy sheriff, family and friends said death caused “indescribable pain.”
“Our heart never forgets the beautiful life of Jonathan, Ellen, Miju and, of course, Osuki,” the statement said. “They will be with us no matter where we go or whatever we do. In the future, when we sit under a tree and hear the wind soaring from the branches, we will do them. I remember hearing it. “
A family in Northern California who died during a hike died in heat: NPR
Source link A family in Northern California who died during a hike died in heat: NPR