(ModernSurvival.org) – Over a dozen picnic sites and several hiking trails have been closed off to the public in California due to “unknown hazards.” The regional order will remain in effect until September 26, while officials investigate the area around the Savage Lundy Trail.
Since Sunday, several recreational sites and trailheads around the Savage Lundy Trail in the Sierra National Forest were closed for a month "to provide for public safety," according to the park service order. https://t.co/iwn7b1NSUb
— 48 Hours (@48hours) September 1, 2021
The closure follows the discovery of a family and their dog in an area known as Devil’s Gulch. John Gerrish and Ellen Chung, along with their 1-year-old daughter and family dog, all perished on the hiking trail. The cause of death is still unknown, though law enforcement has excluded homicide and chemicals from the list of possibilities.
Autopsies performed on the family were inconclusive, and authorities are waiting on toxicology reports for clues as to what may have killed the family. According to a report from Fox News, “potentially harmful algal blooms” have been found in the nearby Merced River.
The tragic death of Gerrish and his family is still a mystery, but it is far from the only strange occurrence to claim the lives of those exploiting the great outdoors. In fact, there have been so many strange deaths and disappearances that investigator David Paulides has written multiple books and filmed two documentaries on the subject.
Strange Disappearances in National Parks
Each year, thousands of people travel to our National Parks to camp, hike, fish, hunt, and just get away from everyday life. Unfortunately, not all of them come back alive — or at all. When a person disappears in a National Park it usually makes the news for a week or two, and then is quickly forgotten by the media.
So many factors can be imagined as to how a person could vanish in the wild, from animal attacks to simply getting lost and succumbing to the elements. Most of the disappearances within National Parks can be attributed to such scenarios; however, there are many cases that are downright bizarre. Children have gone missing, and are later found miles away or high up on mountains. Bodies appear on trails that have been searched by SARs (Search and Rescue) teams for days or even weeks prior. People are found deceased in mere inches of water — and, inexplicably, people vanish in the blink of an eye.
David Paulides and Missing 411
Such mysterious disappeared person cases have been the focus of investigation for retired police detective David Paulides for over ten years now. With nine books and two movies in the Missing 411 line, Paulides has linked thousands of cases of missing people to truly strange circumstances.
Missing 411 was created after Paulides was approached by park rangers who presented him with information regarding several missing person cases which they believed to be abnormal. The rangers were concerned, as the Nation Park Service (NPS) was seemingly uninterested in pursuing these cases and thwarted their attempts to investigate them.
Since then, Paulides has investigated thousands of cases and has encountered similar roadblocks from the NPS. Paulides has filed Freedom of Information requests to obtain a list of missing people from the NPS, and was told no such list exists. He was told that in order to have one generated, it would cost him $36,000 for a list of missing people from Yosemite National Park alone, and $1.4 million dollars to get a cumulative list of missing people from the entire National Park system (Recently, after years of denial, a list of missing people has been released for Yosemite National Park).
Criteria for Investigation
Before a missing person case is considered for investigation by Paulides and his Missing 411 team, it must fit certain profile points:
- Mental illness or suicidal thoughts must be ruled out.
- No signs of voluntary disappearance.
- No signs of animal predation.
- No indication of foul play.
- Unknown cause of death.
- Severe weather is often involved, usually striking unexpectedly.
- Canines either cannot find a scent to track the person or refuse to track the person altogether.
- The victim, if found, is in an area previously searched.
- Clothing or shoes are missing from the victim.
- Water is often found in the immediate area of the disappearance: Lakes, creeks, rivers, ponds, or streams.
- The victim has a disability or illness of some sort.
- The victim disappeared in one of the geographical clusters that have been identified by the team.
How to Avoid Becoming a Missing 411 Subject
Paulides suggest the following tips to avoid becoming one of the missing: Carry a personal locator device, bring a firearm (if legal in the area), and always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return especially when hiking alone.
To learn more about Missing 411, visit their website at https://www.canammissing.com/.
~Here’s to Your Survival!
Copyright 2021, ModernSurvival.org