Autopsy inconclusive in father and daughter death in South Carolina, Coroner believes hypothermia was cause of death

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Jason Murph, 42, and his 6-year-old daughter, Michelle Murph, were discovered deceased 100 yards from their wrecked pickup truck in Calhoun County, South Carolina.

Jason Murph and daughter, Michelle Murph, 6.
Jason Murph and daughter, Michelle Murph, 6.

A South Carolina coroner said he believes he knows how a father and daughter died last Saturday, although their autopsy came back inconclusive Friday.

On December 16, Jason Murph called his estranged wife around 8:30 p.m. and told her that he had wrecked his pickup truck in Calhoun County and slid off the road. Investigators said that Jason did not know where he was following the crash. 

Calhoun County Coroner Donnie Porth said he believes Jason Murph and Michelle Murph died due to ‘hypothermia’.

In his report, Porth stated that his conclusion was the “wind and rain,” which he described as becoming “extremely cold.

I think it became an urgency for them to try to find help and try to find shelter, Porth said.

During the phone call with his estranged wife, Porth said she told the police that she mentioned hearing their daughter yelling in the background before Jason hung up. According to Porth, when Jason’s wife tried to call him back, he didn’t answer. Porth said it was also mentioned that the phone had died.

According to Porth, Jason’s wife attempted to text him to contact 911, but she stated that she never heard from him again.

According to investigators, Jason and Michelle Murph did their best to seek help and find a way to escape after the crash, but the harsh conditions prevented them from doing so, leaving them trapped in the cold weather.

Jason Murph’s pick up truck got stuck in the mud after the crash and caught fire as he tried to get it unstuck.

Jason Murph burned pickup truck
Jason Murph burned pickup truck

Porth also mentioned that evidence at the scene indicated that Jason made several attempts to free his truck, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The gra*s eventually caught fire from the friction caused by Jason’s attempts to free his truck from the mud, according to Porth.

“The car actually started the gra*s fire probably around 10:30 p.m but unfortunately, when the car fire was extinguished. I think that’s when they became urgent to get out,” Porth said.

Jason and his 6-year-old daughter tried to flee to the interstate for help, but they got stuck in a wet area near a creek just 100 yards from where the truck crashed, as reported by Porth. Porth said investigators found their bodies next to each other. She said she believed that the two were walking together, and because Jason is heavier than his daughter, “he sank into the mud.”

“The more you struggle, the deeper you go,” Porth said. “I would ask everyone to keep family and friends and their prayers and and thoughts.”

Police said the investigation is ongoing.



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