Authorities in Northern California are trying to determine what killed a family of three and their dog who were found on a hiking trail in a remote area of the Sierra National Forest after being reported missing.
Search teams on Tuesday discovered the lifeless bodies of all three victims – identified as John Gerrish, a British-born software engineer for Google; his wife Ellen Chung; and their one-year-old daughter, Muji – near an area known as Devil’s Gulch in the Southfork of the Merced River, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said.
A spokesperson for the sheriff’s office told DailyMail.com the family of three were found out on a hiking trail, not in a tent.
Their dog was also mysteriously dead, prompting authorities to treat the site as a hazmat scene, said Kristie Mitchell, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office.
The camping area sits atop several former gold mines.
‘It could be a carbon monoxide situation. That’s one of the reasons why we’re treating it as a hazmat situation,’ she said.
‘There are several abandoned mines up in the area and in an abundance of caution or recovery team is taking precautions for any poisonous gases, particles in the area,’ Mitchell added. ‘So far, there has been no measurable poisons registered.’
Mitchell also did not rule out possible exposure to toxic algae. She noted that the bodies of the deceased showed no signs of trauma, and no suicide note was found.
‘It is a very bizarre situation,’ she said.