Calif. investigating waterways of Northern Calif. hiking trail after family was found dead this week

A Mariposa County deputy sheriff stands watch over a remote area northeast of the town of Mariposa, Calif., near the area where a family and their dog were reportedly found dead the day before. (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee via AP)

A Mariposa County deputy sheriff stands watch over a remote area northeast of the town of Mariposa, Calif., near the area where a family and their dog were reportedly found dead the day before. (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee via AP)

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 3:49 PM PT – Friday, August 20, 2021

Authorities have been investigating whether toxic algae blooms contributed to the deaths of a California family on a remote hiking trail. Researchers began testing waterways near the northern California hiking trail Hite’s Cove on Thursday after John Gerrish, his wife Ellen Chung, their daughter and their dog were all found dead earlier this week.

Authorities reported algae bloom from old mines may have caused the deaths. However, the local sheriff’s office and California’s Department of Justice have been investigating the scene as investigators have not found a clear cause of death.

A remote canyon area northeast of the town of Mariposa, seen on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, is reported to be the area where a family and their dog were found dead on Tuesday, the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office said. Investigators are considering whether toxic algae blooms or other hazards may have contributed to the deaths of the Northern California couple, their baby and the family dog on a remote hiking trail, authorities said.  (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee via AP)

A remote canyon area northeast of the town of Mariposa is reported to be the area where a family and their dog were found dead on Tuesday, the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office said. (Craig Kohlruss/The Fresno Bee via AP)

The area of the hiking trail where the family was found, located in the Sierra National Forest, was once a gold mining site in the mid-19th century. The Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office issued a hazmat declaration over the possibility of toxic gases from the mines, which was later lifted on Wednesday.

The bodies were sent to a coroner, where they have undergone autopsies and toxicology exams. Officials have been awaiting the results before ruling out any possible causes of deaths.

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