The death of a young family and their pet dog on a hiking trail has been shrouded in mystery with police trying to determine how they died.
John Gerrish, his partner Ellen Chung and their one-year-old daughter Miju along with the family dog were reported missing at Sierra National Forest in California on Monday, police said.
The family’s car was found at the entrance to the forest and two days later they were found dead near an area called Devil’s Gulch on Wednesday.
But police do not know exactly how they died and have worn hazmat suits at the crime scene.
Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Kristie Mitchell told The LA Times the family could have died from carbon monoxide poisoning.
“This is a very unusual, unique situation,” she said.
“There were no signs of trauma, no obvious cause of death. There was no suicide note.”
She said their bodies have been transported to the Coroner’s office. Ms Mitchell added the area has no mobile phone service.
One theory being floated is the family were exposed to toxic fumes from old mines nearby. The area was the site of a hard rock gold mining operation in the mid-19th century.
Another theory is the possibility of toxic algae.
The couple were known to be avid hikers.
Their friend, Mariposa real estate agent Sidney Radanovich, said Mr Gerrish was a San Francisco-based software designer who, with his wife, “fell in love with the Mariposa area” and bought several homes there, a residence for themselves and rental investments.
“They were such a loving couple. They loved each other quite a bit,” Radanovich told the San Francisco Chronicle.
“He loved showing the baby all sorts of things and explaining them to her.”
Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office Sheriff Jeremy Briese called their deaths “heartbreaking”.
with The Associated Press
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