Cause of death for California family on a hike heat-related, possible dehydration

The Mariposa County Sheriff's Office ruled the cause of death was hyperthermia.

The Mariposa County Sheriff's Office ruled the cause of death was hyperthermia, due to environmental heat exposure, and possible dehydration, of the Northern California family who died while hiking this summer.

This update comes after almost three months after the bodies of John Gerrish, his wife, Ellen Chung, along with their 1-year-old daughter Muji and their family dog were found near the Merced River in the Sierra National Forest on Aug. 17.

Mariposa County Sheriff Jeremy Briese said during a Thursday press conference that the family set off on a hike on Aug. 15 when the temperature was comfortably in the 70s, but as they continued to hike, temperatures rose into the 107 - 109 degree heat range.

"This section of the trail [where the family was found] is a South to South-East facing slope, exposing the trail to constant sunlight," Briese said during the press conference. "There's very little shade along the section of the trail due to the Ferguson Fire of 2018."

Police added that the family was found with a nearly empty 85-ounce water bladder backpack and no other water source.

Hyperthermia is sustaining an abnormally high body temperature caused by a failure of regulating heat coming from the environment, according to the National Institute of Health.

The family was reported missing to the Mariposa County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 16 by a babysitter.

"The loss [and the] pain is almost beyond words. When that loss is multiplied by four, and one of that four is a baby, of just 1-years-old, then that pain is indescribable," said press officer Kristie Mitchell, who read a statement on behalf of the Garish-Chung family. "They will remain with us wherever we go, and we're at 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."