Authorities Eye Toxic Algae In Deaths Of Family And Dog On California Hike

Authorities are now investigating toxic algal blooms as a possible cause of the death of a family and their dog during a hike in California this week.
John Gerrish and Ellen Chung, their one-year-old daughter Miju, and Oski, the family's golden retriever, were found dead Tuesday on a remote hiking trail along the Merced River in the Sierra National Forest after a family friend reported them missing.
John Gerrish and Ellen Chung, their one-year-old daughter Miju, and Oski, the family's golden retriever, were found dead in the Sierra National Forest on Tuesday. The cause of death is being investigated. (Photo: KSEE)
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When officials speculated about the cause of death - and considered the possibility of toxic gases from old mines in the area - the family's location was treated as a dangerous goods location. However, that statement was overturned on Wednesday and investigators are now testing for toxic algal blooms in the water.
"I don't think it's connected to a mine," Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese told the Fresno Bee. He said the nearest mine was about 3 miles from where the bodies were found.
"We won't rest until we find out," added the sheriff.
The authorities are waiting for the results of the autopsy and toxicological tests.
Kristie Mitchell, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office, called the deaths a "very unusual, unique situation". There are “no signs of trauma, no apparent cause of death. There was no suicide note, "Mitchell said on the AP.
Sidney Radanovich, a family friend, described the couple as avid hikers who particularly enjoy exploring the area.
"They were such a loving couple," Radanovich told the San Francisco Chronicle. He said Gerrish, a San Francisco-based software designer, loved "showing Miju all kinds of things and explaining them to her".
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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