California teen hides for 30 hours in forest after escaping shooter who killed his father on their road trip

15-year-old Jack told 911 that a man had opened fire on his father, later identified as Dr Ari Gershman, while driving down a dirt road


                            California teen hides for 30 hours in forest after escaping shooter who killed his father on their road trip
John Thomas Conway (Butte County Sheriff's Office)
ADVERTISEMENT

DOWNIEVILLE, CALIFORNIA: A teenage boy spent more than 30 hours in the wilderness after his father was shot dead. The tragic incident reportedly happened on Friday, July 3, when Dr Ari Gershman took his son Jack to the Tahoe National Forest for an off-roading trip in a new four-wheel-drive Jeep.

Investigators said that the suspect in the case John Thomas Conway was arrested on July 4, the same day that 15-year-old Jack was found in the forest. Conway was reportedly taken into custody following an officer-involved shooting and K-9 deployment. The Sierra County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement: “Even though the juvenile... spent the night alone in the forest, he was in good physical condition and did not require medical attention. After giving him some food and water, officers transported him to the Sheriff's Office, where he was reunited with his mother.”

According to reports, Jack called on a cellphone and said that his father had been shot and that he escaped and become lost in the forest. “The 15-year-old told the 911 dispatcher that he and his father, who was later identified as Dr Ari Gershman, a physician from Danville, encountered the suspect while driving down a dirt road. The suspect opened fire on Dr Gershman and his son, killing Dr Gershman,” the statement said as reported by Fox News.

ADVERTISEMENT

The body of Ari and his vehicle was found by police, however, in order to locate the accused and Ari’s teenage son, a massive search effort by numerous law enforcement agencies was launched. Both Jack and Conway were found on July 4. The teenager was found hours before the suspect. “Shortly after locating the juvenile, the suspect approached two California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife officers and a U.S. Forest Service officer at high speed in utility-terrain-vehicle,” the Sierra County Sheriff’s Office said.

Police said to catch Conway they had set up a checkpoint, but the 40-year-old accused did not stop, which prompted authorities to use gun and K-9 deployment. “The suspect failed to stop and tried to run over the two wildlife officers and then fled south on Saddleback Road towards Downieville. A third wildlife officer was positioned down the road in Downieville and started driving up the hill to block the suspects' vehicle,” the official statement read, adding the chase resulted “in a collision as they were attempting to take the suspect into custody.”

After the arrest, Conway was reportedly taken to a hospital after receiving medical treatment at the scene. However, how much he has been injured was not revealed. The sheriff’s office said soon the charges against the suspect will be announced by the county district attorney. Conway was also wanted by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office for a felony warrant charging him with vandalism, battery, and two counts of making terrorist threats, according to an August 2019 report.

Meanwhile, a GoFundMe page set up for the Gershman family has stated that Ari, an Internal Medicine Doctor, was survived by his wife Paige and three children including Jack. “Ari's wife Paige is in the fight of her life right now undergoing Chemo treatments for Cancer. This family really needs our love and support.   Paige is now the single mother to Evan, 16 a rising Junior at SRV, Jack, 15, a rising sophomore at SRV, and Maci, 10, going into 5th grade at Sycamore,” the message on the fundraising page read. As of Wednesday, July 8, the page has raised over $300,000 out of $450,000 goal.

ADVERTISEMENT