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[Yosemite]

Final report on family of hikers

Hiking, backpacking, running, biking, climbing, rafting, and other human-powered activities in Yosemite National Park

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Final report on family of hikers

Postby balzaccom » Sat Dec 04, 2021 7:46 am

The final report on the three hikers (and their dog) who died in the foothills west of Yosemite is now public. This from the SF Chronicle:

For two months, Mariposa County investigators looked for algae-laden water, long-lost mines that might emit toxic gas, poisonous vegetation, evidence of lightning strikes — anything that could explain how a young family and their dog mysteriously died together this summer on a remote trail near their home.

But in the end, as detailed in 77 pages of investigative reports obtained by The Chronicle, detectives kept coming back to sizzling hot temperatures, lack of shade, rigorous terrain and a slew of disastrous choices that led to the shocking deaths of Ellen Chung, 31, and Jonathan Gerrish, 45, along with their 1-year-old daughter, Miju, and dog, Oski, after an Aug. 15 hike.

“The family, numerous experts told the detectives, appeared to catastrophically underestimate just how dangerous their trek would be with temperatures reaching 109 degrees on a steep path locals knew to avoid during the summer. Crucially, it appeared they hadn’t brought nearly enough water.”
Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby AlmostThere » Sat Dec 04, 2021 8:09 am

And everywhere on social media people cried conspiracy, foul, wrong.

Thing is, the first report I read on the incident, I could see how it might have gone -- hot day, not enough water, steep climb back to the car. Exposed hillside. The parents get heat exhaustion, dehydration alters your mental status before you notice - the kid is more susceptible to severe symptoms early, the parents already dehydrated start making bad decisions, the child's death sends them into panic and/or despair, more bad decisions ensue, the dog hangs on in the area out of loyalty and succumbs as well.

Absolutely horrifying, but so many people take the same risk and make it back to the car, never knowing they were that close to catastrophe. So sad.
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby snowcreek » Sat Dec 04, 2021 12:24 pm

Like the death of Epstein there is nothing to see here. Move alone folks...
High altitude at low altitude is fatal everytime
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby balzaccom » Sat Dec 04, 2021 7:59 pm

The point I think a lot of the reports overlooked is that the family hiked almost ten miles that day. Most of the reports noted that they were only a mile or so from the trailhead, but they had hiked a long loop on that hot day, with (as AT has noted) not enough water. And as they climbed the last stage of the hike, up that steep, completely barren slope (Burned terribly a couple of years ago---I've done trail crew work there) it would have made for a very tough situation.
Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby snowcreek » Sun Dec 05, 2021 10:44 pm

the family hiked almost ten miles that day

Wow. I had not read this. I assumed they had not gone nearly that far. I can attest to the heat of that canyon- its low altitude and HOT. I NEVER thought of hiking it in the summer. I retract my statements as this makes much more sense. Why the media did not highlight that I have no clue. A tragedy all around
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby AlmostThere » Mon Dec 06, 2021 2:35 pm

The first time I saw this story in print, it was a few vague paragraphs. Same article spread around publications all over the internet. It was vague, didn't mention the trail specifically, but hinted that it was at Hite Cove. The more detailed story was on the Fresno Bee, which included a video of a law enforcement person giving more specific info. Not all of it, but better than the vague paragraphs. It included a picture of the vehicle sitting at the gate on the 4x4 trail to Hite Cove. That confirmed my guess that it was actually Savage-Lundy, not the Hite Cove trail as everyone else on social media thought.

The people in media don't research any more. If the first journalist involved had asked someone who actually hiked locally, it might have included the specifics of that trail and made more sense. But that's the way news has gone, cut-and-paste journalism instead of research and actual information. There is, of course, the fact that it was an open investigation until a determination was made -- yet it still would have been possible to be actually informational, instead of ignorant.
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby balzaccom » Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:50 am

You've identified at least three different issues in your post, AT:
1. The investigation was on-going, which is to say that the investigating authorities may not have disclosed all the information they had.
2. The first story was only a few paragraphs. When editors cut stories down, they try to eliminate what will be least interesting to their readers---which may be some of the most important information for people who really understand the issues involved.
3. Both the writer and the editor were probably learning as they went--you don't expect expert hikers to be working at newspapers--and often they don't know what they don't know, and are flying blind.

All of which are good reasons why it's usually not a good idea to judge other hikers and their experiences by what is written about them in the newspapers.
Check our our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
Or just read a good mystery novel set in the Sierra; https://www.amazon.com/Danger-Falling-Rocks-Paul-Wagner/dp/0984884963
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby snowcreek » Tue Dec 07, 2021 8:32 pm

I think the reason many found this suspicious is this was not the first heat stroke related death of a prominent worker with ties to pretty powerful institutions and company's. The husband in this case was a former Google empolyee (alphabet) and was working with Snap Chat (the site infamous for convincing US teenagers to eat tide pods). Phillip Kreycik also disapeared and wound up dead of heatstroke in CA this year. He was a longtime Harvard employee. Harvard has long had ties to government agency's.
Both of these men were experienced with the outdoors and both wound up dying of a very preventable death at middle age- long after most people succumb to such things.
While it appears to all just be coincidence- many people dont believe in coincidence- And I myself still find it all odd... Though plausible. It is the Yos region- and having lived there a few years and almost dying myself in an incredibly dumb manner- who knows?...
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby AlmostThere » Wed Dec 08, 2021 7:45 am

[*]During 2004–2018, a total of 10,527 deaths resulting from exposure to heat-related conditions were identified.[*]
https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6924a1.htm

There are a lot of heat related deaths in the US. That a few of them happen in the wilderness/forest shouldn't surprise anyone. Sure, it's weird that two people from the same company died of it. But conspiracy theories aren't something I care about, too many paranoias to be adopted, let other people adopt them.

And experience in the outdoors ain't gonna make you bullet proof. It can make you complacent tho.
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Re: Final report on family of hikers

Postby Phil » Wed Dec 15, 2021 8:52 pm

Hydrate, hydrate.......................hydrate!!

Experience doesn't always preclude happenstance and disaster. Sadly unnecessary, but fate is fickle, and your time is up when you get your ticket punched, although, helping it by doing dumb stuff is theoretically what experience is supposed to teach you to at least not do quite so often. How many people have all of us seen going up the JMT to Half Dome with a 1/2L of water and flip flops on? Too many! Roll them bones. Hoke Hey.
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