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California hiking trail where family and dog found dead is ordered closed because of "unknown hazards"

Family of 3 found dead in remote hiking area
Family of 3 found dead in remote California hiking area 01:36

Federal park officials have ordered the closure of a trail in California's Mariposa County where three family members and their dog were found dead from unknown causes earlier this month. Officials cited "unknown hazards" in the area as the reason for the closure.

Since Sunday, several recreational sites and trailheads around the Savage Lundy Trail in the Sierra National Forest were closed for a month "to provide for public safety," according to the park service order. Per the order, anyone using or being anywhere near the listed trailheads could be subject to fines up to $5,000 or $10,000 if they are a group.

The announcement came as investigators continue looking into what killed John Gerrish, his wife Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter Miju and their dog back in mid-August. Their bodies were found on a hiking trail near Hite's Cove on August 17.

California Family-Mysterious Deaths
A helicopter hovers over a remote area northeast of the town of Mariposa, California on August 18, 2021. According to the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office, the area is reported to be where a family and their dog were found dead. Craig Kohlruss/AP

CBS San Francisco reports investigators said this week they were still unsure of what killed the family. Last week they ruled out that possible gases from a nearby mine could've been the culprit. Investigators were also considering whether toxic algae blooms may have contributed to their deaths.

"This is a very unusual, unique situation," Kristie Mitchell, a spokesperson for the sheriff's office, said last week. "There were no signs of trauma, no obvious cause of death. There was no suicide note."

Gerrish was a British expat-turned-San Francisco 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 over the last few years.

The trails will stay closed until September 26, though that is subject to change.

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