Ellen Chung and Jonathan Gerrish, along with their 1-year-old daughter Aurelia “Miju” Chung-Gerrish and their dog Oski, were found dead on a hiking trail near the Merced River last August.
A British Snapchat engineer sent a desperate last text to his family before he and they died in 100F heat on a California hiking trail. However, poor cell reception meant the message never went through.
Jonathan Gerrish, 45, his wife Ellen Chung, 31, their one-year-old daughter Aurelia ‘Miju’ Chung-Gerrish, and their dog Oski were found dead last August on a hiking trail near the Merced River. They had been missing since a week earlier.
After months of work with an FBI forensics team, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office released information pulled from the cellphone of Jonathan Gerrish.
In one text message made shortly before noon on August 15 to a person whose name was not released, the person wrote: ‘Can you help us?’ and added: ‘We have no water or power, and our baby is sick.’
But the area had bad cellphone service and the text never went through. Neither did five phone calls to various people, investigators said.
Last fall, investigators determined that the family died of extreme heat stroke. That afternoon, temperatures in the steep mountain terrain reached 109F; the family had run out of water; and a wildfire had burned off any shade canopy.
A survival trainer involved with the case wrote an email to detectives that the young couple likely died while attempting to save their infant daughter.
After relatives reported the family missing, authorities found them after two days. The family had hiked 6.4 miles with their baby in a backpack-type carrier. They were 1.6 miles away from their car.
The family had an 85-ounce water container with them that was empty.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, at some point around noon, Gerrish and Chung tried to call and text for help with their cellphones.
Five phone calls – four of them made in rapid succession – went to several phone numbers but the family didn’t call 911, the Sheriff’s Office said.
The first call was made at 12:09 p.m. Beginning at 12:35 p.m., the family made the final four calls in rapid succession, investigators said.
However, none of the calls connected.
Dehydration can cause dizziness and ultimately death.
Hyperthermia is abnormally high body temperature caused by the failure of heat-regulating mechanisms.
The cause of death of the family’s dog was undetermined, but i is believed the dog was also suffering from heat-related issues.
‘In the future when we sit beneath the trees, hearing the wind soar beneath the branches, we will think of them and we will remember.’