An entire family that was reported missing over the weekend has been found dead under mysterious circumstances on Tuesday, Aug. 17, following an extensive search-and-rescue operation that led to the gruesome discovery in a remote national park.

John Gerrish, Ellen Chung, and their 1-year-old daughter Muji were all found dead in the Devil’s Gulch area near the Merced River drainage of the Sierra National Forest after going on a family hike during the weekend, according to USA Today.

The family's dog was also found dead with the bodies of the family of three on the scene.

A friend of the couple reported the trio missing on Monday after losing contact with Gerrish and Chung. The report prompted a search that concluded on Tuesday with the team making the horrific discovery in a remote area of the national park, KRON news reported.

“This is never the outcome we want or the news we want to deliver; my heart breaks for their family,” Sheriff Jeremy Briese said. “Our Sheriff’s Chaplains and staff are working with their family and will continue to support them during this heartbreaking time.”

The family's cause of death remains unclear, with Mariposa County Public Information Officer Kristie Mitchell noting that their remains showed no signs of trauma and no gunshot wounds. No suicide note was also found at the scene, according to the Mercury Times.

“That's a hard question to answer. We aren't ruling anything out at this point,” Mitchell said.

Officials stated that they are having trouble retrieving the bodies from the area due to the isolated and secluded location of the gruesome discovery, the New York Daily News reported.

Officials handling the remains are treating the area as a hazmat situation, stating that the environment where the family was originally found contained toxic algae as well as carbon monoxide, though it is unknown how much of this contributed to the family’s deaths.

“We aren't specifically saying this is carbon monoxide, we aren't saying it's toxic algae, we aren't saying that it couldn't be something else,” Mitchell said. “What we wanted to do was just take extra precautions because there are additional hazards in the area.”

The deaths are under investigation by the local Sheriff’s office, as well as the California Department of Justice.

A family of three has been found dead of mysterious circumstances in the Sierra National Forest in California after they were reported missing on Monday. This is a representational image. Lital Levy/Unsplash.

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