The family was reported missing by a friend Monday night and search teams located their vehicle near a Sierra National Forest gate leading to Hites Cove in California.
John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, 1-year-old daughter Miju, and their family dog were later found dead near an area known as Devil’s Gulch in the Southfork of the Merced River drainage, according to the Mariposa County Sheriff’s Office.
“This is never the outcome we want or the news we want to deliver, my heart breaks for their family,” said Sheriff Jeremy Briese. “Our Sheriff’s Chaplains and staff are working with their family and will continue to support them during this heartbreaking time.”
A cause of death isn’t clear at this time, so the scene is being treated as a hazmat and coroner investigation, authorities said.
“It could be a carbon monoxide situation. That’s one of the reasons why we’re treating it as a hazmat situation,” said Kristie Mitchell, a spokeswoman with the sheriff’s office.
Mitchell added that the bodies were found in a remote area with no cell phone service. The area was located near the Hite Cove trail, which is known for having wildflower displays in the spring.