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California family found dead on hike killed by extreme heat, sheriff says

extreme heat

California family found dead on hike killed by extreme heat, sheriff says

The California family that died in August while hiking in Sierra national forest was killed by extreme heat and probable dehydration, law enforcement officials announced on Thursday, providing some answers to a mystery that had baffled investigators for months.

The Mariposa county sheriff’s department believes 45-year-old Jonathan Gerrish, originally from the UK, his wife, 30-year-old Ellen Chung, their one-year-old daughter, Miju, and their dog, Oski, died while on a hike on the Hites Cove trail on 15 August. Temperatures were as high as 109F (42.8C) that day, and the majority of the eight-mile trail has little shade or trees.

“Heat-related deaths are extremely difficult to investigate,” said Jeremy Briese, the Mariposa county sheriff.

The unusual case had stumped law enforcement since 17 August when officials found the bodies of the family and their dog on the remote hiking trail near the Devil’s Gulch area in Sierra national forest. They were all found in the same area, and it appeared they had completed most of the hike, Briese said.

Their vehicle was located a little more than a mile away, near a gate to the forest. A friend had reported the family, described as avid hikers, as missing. An 85-ounce (2.5-litre) water container the family had with them was empty, and they had no other water. There is no cellphone reception on the trail.

When officials found the bodies, no signs of the cause of death were immediately clear, and the area was briefly treated as a hazmat site. The sheriff’s department described the case as an “unusual, unique situation”.

The case transfixed the state and prompted national news coverage as law enforcement and online sleuths sought to determine what happened to the family.

In the months since, officials had considered but ultimately ruled out a number of other causes of death, including carbon monoxide, exposure to gas from mines in the area, a lightning strike, suicide and drugs.

Officials also considered the possibility the family had been killed by toxic algae after water sources in the area tested positive for it, but said at the news briefing they had found no evidence to support this as the cause of death. In September, Sierra national forest closed trails near where the family died, citing “unknown hazards found in and near the Savage Lundy trail”.

Temperatures were in the 70s when the family started their hike, but climbed as high as 108F as they made their way through the trail. Officials were unable to determine the dog’s cause of death, but believed it was also related to the heat.

The circumstances of their deaths, with the entire family and dog found together, were unusual, Griese acknowledged, but his office was confident in their findings. More than 30 local, state and federal agencies were involved in the investigation. The FBI is analyzing a cellphone found with the family, which investigators hope will provide more information about what unfolded on the trail that day.

The deaths, Griese said, were weather-related and there are no other known hazards to the public on the trail.

A friend of the family previously told the San Francisco Chronicle that Gerrish was a San Francisco-based software designer who “fell in love with the Mariposa area” and bought several homes there. The Fresno Bee reported that Gerrish worked remotely for Snapchat while Chung, who was from southern California and had previously worked as a yoga instructor, was in graduate school to become a marriage and family therapist.

“From everyone we talk to they were extremely happy, outgoing and loved finding Mariposa, and they were able to work from home and enjoy nature, and in the short time they were here they made a lot of friends,” Briese told the Chronicle.

In a statement read by a spokesperson for the sheriff’s office, the Gerrish-Chung family said their loved ones’ deaths had been a “pain almost beyond words”, worsened by its mysterious nature. They thanked officials for their work on the case and efforts to provide answers.

“Our hearts will never forget the beautiful lives of Jonathan, Ellen, Miju and of course, Oski,” the statement said. “They will remain with us wherever we go and in whatever we do. In the future, when we sit beneath the trees listening to the wind soaring through the branches, we will hear them and we will remember.”

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Health

NAFDAC bans sale of Dex Luxury bar soap in Nigeria

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration Control, (NAFDAC) has placed a ban on the sale of Dex Luxury bar soap in Nigeria.

The agency explained that the ban was due to Butyphenyl Methylpropional, BMHCA, content in the product.

This was contained in a post on the Agency’s X handle on Thursday.

According to the post, the European Union, EU, banned the product due to the risk of harming the reproductive system of users, causing harm to the health of the unborn child, and cause skin sensitization.

“Although this product is not on the NAFDAC database, importers, distributors, retailers, and consumers are advised to exercise caution and vigilance within the supply chain to avoid the importation, distribution, sale, and use of the above-mentioned product”, the agency added.

 

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Health

No outbreak of Lassa fever in any local govt- Kogi Govt

Nigeria identifies three drugs for Lassa fever treatment

Kogi State Government has debunked any outbreak of Lassa fever across the 21 local government areas of the State.

Commissioner for Health in the state, Dr. Abdulazeez Adams Adeiza while reacting to a viral video of an alleged lassa fever outbreak, noted that a student who was admitted to the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja did not die of lassa fever.

According to the Commissioner, it was reported that the student died of hemorrhagic fever.

The Commissioner explained that the deceased student who was admitted at the Federal Teaching Hospital Lokoja presented complaints of fever and bleeding from the gum.

He added that the patient was being investigated and managed, while samples were taken and sent to Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) Abuja, but before the result was released, he had lost his life.

The Commissioner said the result came out to be negative for lassa fever.

In his words, ”the suspected case has turned out to be negative for lassa fever.

“It is not only lassa fever that can make a patient to present bleeding from the gum. Other reasons could include blood dyscrasias and bleeding disorders”.

He advised members of the public to disregard the report as no case of lassa fever has been reported in the state

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Health

UCH workers directed to stop working by 4pm over continuous blackout

The Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is the umbrella body of unions at the University College Hospital (UCH) in Ibadan, Oyo state, has directed all employees of the health institution to commence work from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily from Tuesday, April 2. 

The directive came after the tertiary health institution was disconnected by the Ibadan Electricity Distribution Company, (IBEDC) over N495 million debt accrued in over six years.

Addressing newsmen, chairman of JAC, Oludayo Olabampe stated that it is no longer safe to continue to attend to patients under the circumstances. He also said that workers would embark on strike if power is not restored.

He said;

“Workers would now work from 8 am to 4 pm only because it is dangerous and risky to attend to patients in that situation. We held a meeting with the management this morning but the issue is that there is no electricity. So, from today, Tuesday, April 2, we will work until 4 p.m. We are not attending to any patient after 4 p.m.

“This means that we won’t admit patients because the nurses that will take care of them will not be available after 4 p.m. and you don’t expect patients to be on their own from 4 p.m. till 8 a.m. the following day.

“If patients need blood tests, the lab will not work, if they need radiography, the radiographers will not work, and the dieticians in charge of their food too will not work after 4 p.m. We also gave management another 14-day ultimatum which started counting from March 27, and if after 14 days power is not restored, we will embark on warning strike.”

Commenting on the development, the chief medical director of UCH, Jesse Otegbayo, alleged that IBEDC was billing the hospital as an industry. He stated that the union did not formally notify management before making such a decision.

He said;

“I have not heard about that, if they are going to do that, they should write to management officially, and then the management will respond. There are rules that govern government service, you can’t just decide what hours you work and expect to be paid full-time.

“If they go ahead to do that without informing management officially, management has a way of applying the rules to pay them for the number of hours which they worked. The proper thing is for them to put it in writing because they didn’t write officially to the management before taking the decision.”

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