California family of 3, their dog found dead in remote hiking area

MARIPOSA, Calif. — A northern California family that had been reported missing was found dead Tuesday on a hiking trail in a remote area of the Sierra National Forest.

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The bodies of John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, 1-year-old daughter Muji and the family dog were discovered near an area known as Devil’s Gulch in the South Fork of the Merced River, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office stated in a news release.

A family friend had reported them missing Monday evening, and the family vehicle was located near where the bodies were found, The Mercury News reported.

According to deputies, there was no clear cause of death for any of the victims, and the scene is being handled as a hazardous materials situation, KRON reported.

“It could be a carbon monoxide situation. That’s one of the reasons why we’re treating it as a hazmat situation,” Kristie Mitchell, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office, told The Mercury News.

Mitchell also told the newspaper that the remote area where the bodies were found, close to Yosemite’s Hite Cove trail and known for its spectacular wildflower displays, had no cellphone service.