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Desperate text, calls were unsuccessful before Californian family were found dead while on a hike


A California family who died of heat and dehydration while hiking in a remote area of ​​the Sierra National Forest desperately tried to call for help, but their calls were unsuccessful due to poor cell service, authorities said.

John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and their dog were all found dead Aug. 17 more than a mile from their car off Savage Lundy Trail after a friend reported them missing.

The family’s deaths were determined to be hyperthermia and probable dehydration due to environmental exposure. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said the family climbed the trail in triple-digit heat and an empty 85-ounce backpack was found with them.

The sheriff’s office on Thursday released further details of the death investigation and said Gerrish’s cellphone data showed the hike began around 7:44 a.m.

The family took several selfies and scenery photos during their hike, the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.

Just before noon, Gerrish tried to text someone for help, but the message never got through. According to the authorities, the message read: “can you help us. On the Lundy Wilderness Trail, return to the Hites Cove Trail. No water or worm (over)heating with baby.”

Authorities have named the person Gerrish tried to text. The family also attempted to make five phone calls to different numbers, but the calls never went through.

Desperate text, calls were unsuccessful before Californian family were found dead while on a hike

The first call came at 12:09 p.m. and the last at 12:36 p.m., authorities said.

The sheriff’s office said the phone details supported their findings that the family died from a heat-related incident. Relatives of Gerrish and Chung could not be immediately reached on Friday.

“The results of the cell phone data were the last thing the family and detectives were waiting for. The information extracted confirms our initial findings. I am very proud of my team and our partner agencies for all the work they have done. “said Sheriff Jeremy Briese. said in a statement. “Their dedication allowed us to close this case and answer the family’s lingering questions, bringing them some peace.”

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