Park Brit man and family found dead shut after unknown hazards discovered

A park where a British man and his family were mysteriously found dead has now been closed after investigators discovered "unknown hazards" near to where they died.

John Gerrish, a 45-year-old British-born software engineer, along with his wife Ellen Chung, 30, daughter Miju, 1, as well as their family dog Oski were found on August 17 in the Devil's Gulch area of Sierra National Park, California.

Friends and family raised the alarm when John and Ellen didn't return from what was meant to be a daylong hike. It was also a scorching hot day with temperatures around 40C.

At the time, police treated it as a hazmat situation, fearing carbon monoxide poisoning or another chemical.

Then, autopsy data from the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office ruled out death by chemical hazards. It also ruled out acute trauma or blunt-force trauma.

Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese has theorised that toxins released from algae in bloom could have been the cause.

This latest update to the mystery came last Saturday when park officials announced the closure of the Merced River Recreation Site "due to unknown hazards found in and near the Savage Lundy Trail".

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The trial, which is close to where the family died, will be closed until September 26 unless "conditions change".

Toxicology reports from the algae are expected to be released in the coming weeks. Even some time before the deaths, park officials had to put up signs warning people not to drink from the waters in the area, and previous tests in the area have found toxic algae.

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Investigators also requested access to the family's social media accounts and phone records.

Sheriff Briese said: "We know the family and friends of John and Ellen are desperate for answers, our team of Detectives are working round the clock.

"Cases like this require us to be methodical and thorough while also reaching out to every resource we can find to help us bring those answers to them as quickly as we can."

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