Michigan man rescued from California trail where family died

Jul 7, 2022, 2:26 PM | Updated: 4:01 pm

MARIPOSA, Calif. (AP) — A tourist from Michigan who tried to retrace the steps of a family who died during a grueling summer hike in Northern California had to be rescued last week after getting lost, a frustrated sheriff said.

The man, who has not been identified, was reported missing near the trail in Mariposa County where officials last year found the bodies of Jonathan Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, their 1-year-old daughter Aurelia “Miju” Chung-Gerrish and their dog Oski, Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said in a statement posted on social media.

The mysterious deaths grabbed international headlines. More than 30 law enforcement agencies painstakingly reviewed — and ruled out — causes of deaths such as murder, lightning strikes, poisoning, illegal drugs and suicide.

After a two-month investigation, authorities determined the family and their dog died of extreme heat exhaustion after running out of water while hiking last year on a sunny August afternoon when temperatures reached 109 degrees Fahrenheit (43 Celsius) in the steep mountain terrain.

On June 29, a hiker called authorities after noticing the man’s car was still parked at the trailhead. The caller had met the tourist from Michigan a day earlier when he told him he was investigating the family’s deaths because he found the cause of death “odd,” Briese said.

A search and rescue crew with the help of a helicopter from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office found the man later that day.

The tourist was described as being in his mid-60’s, approximately 5’6″ (1.68 meters) and 200 pounds (90 kilograms), and wearing sweatpants “on some of the hottest days we have seen this year,” Briese said.

The man began his hike in an area with a closed gate and marked with a “CLOSED” sign. He had finished the water from the two one-gallon water containers he was carrying and had to drink water from the nearby river, he said.

After rescuers found him, the man wanted to know if there had been updated algae testing on the water, Briese said.

He was treated for dehydration and badly blistered feet before he left the area in his rental car against medical advice, Briese said.

“It is hard not to be angry about this particular rescue mission, I want people to come here and enjoy all the amazing nature Mariposa County has to offer,” Briese said.

“To have someone purposely put themselves in danger, using vital resources and potentially putting the safety of our staff in danger all to try and prove us wrong is maddening and quite frankly sickening,” he added.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


(Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS...

Associated Press

9 injured in Memorial Day shooting at Florida beach

Police are responding to a shooting near the beach broadwalk in Hollywood, Florida.

1 day ago

Crew members assemble the main stage ahead of the 2023 Scripps Nations Spelling Bee on Sunday, May ...

Associated Press

Exclusive secrets of the National Spelling Bee: Picking the words to identify a champion

As the final pre-competition meeting of the Scripps National Spelling Bee's word selection panel stretches into its seventh hour, the pronouncers no longer seem to care.

1 day ago

FILE - Gabby Petito's mother Nichole Schmidt, wipes a tear from her face during a news conference o...

Associated Press

Mother of man who killed Gabby Petito said in letter she would help son ‘dispose of a body’

The mother of the man who killed Gabby Petito told her son in an undated letter that she would “dispose of a body” if needed because she loved him so much, according to copies of the note shared publicly for the first time this week by attorneys for Petito's parents.

4 days ago

A member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, places flags in front of e...

Associated Press

5 things to know about Memorial Day including its controversies

Memorial Day is supposed to be about mourning the nation’s fallen service members, but it’s come to anchor the unofficial start of summer and a long weekend of discounts on anything from mattresses to lawn mowers.

4 days ago

FILE - This artist sketch depicts the trial of Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes, left, as he test...

Associated Press

Officers describe chaos, fear on Jan. 6 as judge weighs prison time for Oath Keepers’ Rhodes

Police officers who defended the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and public servants who fled the mob's attack told a judge on Wednesday that they are still haunted by what they endured, as the judge prepares to hand down sentences in a landmark Capitol riot case.

5 days ago

Pride month merchandise is displayed at the front of a Target store in Hackensack, N.J., Wednesday,...

Associated Press

Target on the defensive after removing LGBTQ+-themed products

Target once distinguished itself as being boldly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.

6 days ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

Michigan man rescued from California trail where family died