The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office managed to access the text messages on the phone of the pair who died mysteriously with their infant and dog on a hike, texts that never went through, and show the couple knew they were in deep trouble.
We are getting to the bottom of the heartbreaking case of a pair of SF transplants who died on an August hike on a Mariposa County trail, along with their infant and dog, a case that initially baffled investigators and led to such theories as the family being poisoned by toxic algae in water, by fumes from an abandoned mine, or even lightning. But a conclusive cause of death was determined in December, when the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office published a report concluding that it was a case of severe hyperthermia (overheating) and dehydration. Now KTVU reports the sheriff's office has managed to access deceased hiker Jonathan Gerrish’s phone for images and text messages, and they do confirm that 109-degree temperatures and heat stroke took his life, as well as that of Ellen Chung, their daughter Miju, and their dog Oski.
“[Name redacted] can you help us,” Gerrish’s last text message said at 11:56 a.m. on August 15. “On savage lundy trail heading back to Hites cove trail. No water or ver [over] heating with baby.”
The text message never went through, as the pair did not have cellular reception at the time.
There are also plenty of images that sheriff's investigators were able to pull from Gerrish’s phone, and the Chronicle details the family's final hours on that fateful August 15 morning. An image shows they took a picture and started their hike at 7:44 a.m., and arrived at a river which is the halfway point of the trail by 9:25 a.m. Their final photos were taken next to a creek at 10:30 a.m. By noon, they were attempting to make rescue calls for help, and were out of water, in an area devoidof tree cover where the ground temperature was likely scorching if you even tried to sit down. But none of the calls went through. In a cruel irony, they were only 1.6 miles from their car when they died.
Their remains were found on August 17. But the recovery of the text and photos does bring some closure to the case.
“The cell phone data results were the last thing both the family and detectives were waiting on,” Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said in a statement. “The extracted information confirms our initial findings. I am very proud of my team and our partner agencies for all the work they put in. Their dedication has allowed us to close this case and answer lingering questions the family had, bringing them a little peace.”
Image: Ellen Chung via Instagram