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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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12 State Governors Owing Us, Health Workers Cry Out

The Medical and Health Workers Union of Nigeria MHWUN, has cried out that governors of 12 states of Nigeria are unfair to their members by owing them several years of salary arrears and also failed to standardise their payments .

The medical body noted that the worst of it all is that these governors have failed to implement the N30,000 new minimum wage that has become a law in the country.

They said the governors have subjected them to harrowing life.

The MHWUN National Vice President , Femi Adebisi stated this in Ado-Ekiti, the Ekiti state capital at the weekend during the 2022 international youth day organized by the South West leadership of the union, under the theme , ‘Intergenerational solidarity : creating a world for all ages.’

Adebisi said the welfare of health workers remains the only recipe to the recurrent brain drain crippling the health sector.

He however, did not identify the affected 12 states.

“We have nothing less than 12 states that are owing health workers their entitlements.We are engaging them as a union and we are hoping the governors and everyone concern will do the needful soon”, he stated.

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Pay Hazard Allowance To Health Workers, NLC Urges F.G

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Ayuba Wabba, has urged the Federal Government to immediately begin the payment of hazard allowance to health workers in the country.

Wabba made the call at the 2022 annual Federal Capital Territory Nurses Week/Scientific Workshop of the National Association of Nigeria Nurses and Midwives on Thursday in Abuja.

At the workshop with the theme, “Invest in Nursing and respect rights to secure global health,” Wabba said the allowance has been reviewed but payment is yet to begin.

“Many health workers have fallen victim to diseases in taking care of patients. I salute the nurses and Midwives, your reward is not only in heaven but here on earth. I urge you to learn so you can discharge quality healthcare service to Nigerians.

“The payment of hazard allowance will boost the morale of our health workers in the country”, he added.


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Cholera Outbreak Kills 10 In Gombe

Gombe state government has declared an outbreak of cholera after ten deaths were recorded across the state.

This was made public by Habu Dahiru, Gombe commissioner for health,  on Thursday.

Dahiru, who was represented by Abdulrahman Shuaibu, executive secretary of the Gombe Primary Health Care Development Agency, said as of September 20, 236 cases of cholera had been recorded in the state.

“This year, from June, we had sporadic cases of cholera in Balanga LGA and because of the preparedness and prompt response; it has been largely subdued without escalation,” he said.

These outbreaks are recorded in eight wards across Balanga, Yamaltu-Deba, Nafada, Funakaye and Gombe LGA of the state.

“The state ministry of health has promptly initiated public health actions for prevention and control of the disease.

“As of September 20, there was an increase in the number of cases in Gombe state as 236 cases have been listed so far.”

The commissioner said increased downpour of rain and flooding in many parts of the state led to the cholera outbreak.

He said decontamination of wells and boreholes in affected communities would be carried out and distribution of water treatment tablets in all affected communities would be conducted.



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