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Old 12-06-2006, 03:23 PM   #1
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How sad

Lost dad found dead in wilderness

POSTED: 4:02 p.m. EST, December 6, 2006
Story Highlights• NEW: Searchers said they found James Kim dead in the Oregon wilderness
• Helicopter with heat-sensitive sensors joined hunt for missing CNET editor
• Kati Kim, daughters rescued Monday after she signals helicopter with umbrella
• Family ran car for warmth, burned tires for signal fires; mother nursed kids

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MERLIN, Oregon (CNN) -- The body of a San Francisco man who had walked into the Oregon wilderness to summon help for his stranded family was found Wednesday in a steep ravine where he had left clues for searchers.

Officials confirmed that James Kim, 35, an editor at the Web site CNET, had been found dead.

Brian Anderson, Undersheriff of Josephine County, broke down and could not finish speaking as he announced that Kim's body was found at 3:03 p.m. ET.

Searchers were attempting to remove Kim's body, and his family members have requested that their privacy be respected, officials said.

Kim walked into the snowy Oregon mountains Saturday to find help for his wife and two young daughters. They were rescued by searchers on Monday.

Clothing and bits of an Oregon map turned up Tuesday in a steep canyon that drains into the Rogue River. Searchers said they believed he was marking his trail for them.

The clothing, which was wet, included two gray sweat shirts, a red T-shirt, a sock and a blue girl's skirt, said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Patrol. Family members said Kim carried the items when he left.

"They were laid out in a well defined area, in a pattern," Hastings said. The pattern led officers to believe that "little signs are being left by James."

Fog hampers search
Searchers also found a pair of gray pants they believed belonged to Kim. The family said he was wearing the pants over blue jeans when he left.

Teams were trying to resume their search Wednesday, but were hampered by fog which they hoped would lift by midday.

Searchers planned to drop 18 numbered rescue packages containing clothing, emergency gear and other survival provisions into the area Wednesday in hopes that Kim could find one. The packages, clear plastic bags the size of pillows, also contained a note from his family.

Searchers said the packages would be dropped in a 3-square-mile area where "hot spots" showed up two nights earlier in thermal imaging.

"This is frustrating. We are so close," Anderson said. "There are people pouring their heart and soul into this. We are not going to quit until we find him."

Temperatures at night in the search area have been dipping below freezing in lower elevations. The weather is expected to deteriorate by Friday.

Dramatic rescue on Monday
Kim's wife, Kati, and two daughters were rescued at their car, stuck in the snow on a remote road.

When he left the car Saturday, James Kim went about two miles along the road, and then headed down into the drainage area, said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police.

About 100 rescue workers and four helicopters were searching for Kim, following his footprints down a drainage called Big Windy Creek that leads to the Rogue River.

Anderson said he does not know why Kim went into the drainage area. "I hope to have the opportunity to ask why he did that," he said.

Kim, a senior editor for the technology media company CNET Networks Inc., had two lighters and was wearing tennis shoes, pants and a heavy coat, but no hat, Anderson said. He would likely be within about five miles of the car, he said.

The Kims had been missing since November 25, when they left Portland and headed home after a holiday trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Kati Kim told officers they were traveling south from Portland on Interstate 5 and missed the turnoff to a state highway, Oregon 42, that leads through the Coast Range to Gold Beach, where they planned to stay at a resort.

Questions about map
Officers said the couple used a map to choose the road they were on. "They got the map out -- a regular highway map -- that showed the route," Anderson said.

However, it wasn't clear whose map the couple used. The 2005-2007 state highway map distributed by the Oregon Department of Transportation has a warning in red print, inside a red box: "This route closed in winter." A Rand-McNally map did not have a similar warning.

On Monday, searchers in a private helicopter hired by the family spotted Kati Kim, 30, and daughters Penelope, 4, and Sabine, 7 months. They were released from a hospital in Grants Pass on Tuesday.

After leaving Portland on Interstate 5, search leaders said, the couple missed a turnoff that leads to the coast and took a wrong turn on a twisty mountain road they chose as an alternative.

Stuck, they used their car heater until they ran out of gas then burned tires to stay warm and attract attention. With only a few jars of baby food and limited supplies, Kati Kim nursed her children.

The area's complicated road network is commonly used by whitewater rafters on the Rogue River or as a shortcut to the coast in the summer, but it is not plowed in the winter.

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Old 12-06-2006, 03:27 PM   #2
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Very very sad.

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Old 12-06-2006, 03:34 PM   #3
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I've been following this story and I'm so sorry to read that he didnt make it
I was also wondering why he strayed off the road into the mountains.
I cant imagine how his wife and family must be feeling, to know that he died trying to save them.
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Old 12-06-2006, 03:37 PM   #4
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RIP Mr. Kim
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Old 12-06-2006, 03:54 PM   #5
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Heartbreaking. If only he'd stayed with his family in the car ... which is what you're supposed to do! If you get lost, stay put.

I can't help but wonder why they didn't turn back when the road got snowy. Did they not realize the road was treacherous until it was too late?

Of course, it's too late for "should haves." So very sad.
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:03 PM   #6
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Originally posted by corianderstem
If only he'd stayed with his family in the car ... which is what you're supposed to do! If you get lost, stay put.
I know. People kept saying he had experience in the outdoors. The first rule is that you always stay with the car. I had really hoped they'd find him alive. It's awful that he died.
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:28 PM   #7
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That's really sad.
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:46 PM   #8
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Well the guy stayed with his car a whole week before going out to look for help.
I don't blame him actually. A few years back, a man took that same road as a shortcut to the coast in his camper. He got stuck in the snow and waited in his camper to be rescued. No one ever came... till the next July when the snow melted. He was still in his camper.
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:47 PM   #9
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Old 12-06-2006, 04:51 PM   #10
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Originally posted by rileybug
Well the guy stayed with his car a whole week before going out to look for help.
I did forget that.

Ugh, just so awful.
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Old 12-06-2006, 05:11 PM   #11
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This is horrible. After seeing the headline on and then the pic of him holding his baby, it just felt so bad for this family. They're definitely in my prayers.

Anyone hearing about any memorial funds or anything?
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Old 12-06-2006, 05:21 PM   #12
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Bless him for trying to save his family.
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Old 12-06-2006, 05:51 PM   #13
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Old 12-07-2006, 05:16 PM   #14
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I had a feeling that that they would not find hin alive. My heart goes out to his wife & childern.
Into the heart of a child...
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Old 12-07-2006, 06:33 PM   #15
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I'm not sure why they burned tires and not trees .
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Old 12-07-2006, 06:57 PM   #16
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Tires burn very long, and produce a lot of smoke.
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Old 12-07-2006, 08:25 PM   #17
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It seems as if a burning hillside would send thick smoke higher in the air, and the flames would be more visible . After they burned the tires it seems as if they stopped burning stuff.
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:00 PM   #18
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You can go to where there is a link to send donations, or just emails to the family.
This whole thing was just so wrenching, and the news yesterday that he died was so sad.

I can't really quit thinking about it, how random it was and such a bizarre thing to have happen. And the fact that he made it back to within a half a mile of the car before he died! It seems like he must've had some outdoor skills to make it as far as he did, but he just couldn't fight the hypothermia long enough.

I keep thinking "if only he'd have stayed at the car!", but at the same time, after a *week* in the car with his wife and kids, he must have thought he had no choice but to try and find help. If only they could have found him in time...
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Old 12-07-2006, 09:44 PM   #19
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Finding enough firewood would probably have been extremely difficult if not impossible given the weather, forest type and limited tools they had, and actually setting fire to a hillside would've been incredibly dangerous and could easily have backfired on them. It was snowing heavily much of the time they were trapped, which probably has a lot to do with why they weren't spotted from helicopters--plus they weren't on some main road or anything; they'd wandered off into a warren of unmarked mountain backroads in poor visibility conditions before getting stranded, and were running out of gas as well. From what I've read the only reason they found his wife and kids when they did was because some cell phone engineers had traced some pings from her cell, and even then that didn't provide rescuers with a very precise location.

Apparently he thought the nearest town was much closer than it actually was. But yeah, hypothermia is deadly--I've been on a group mountain hike before which went disastrously wrong, and some people along wound up getting completely destroys your ability to think, react and respond appropriately.

Still I think he was only doing what just about any responsible parent or friend would've done in that situation; I don't doubt that he had real outdoor skills, but they simply weren't prepared for those circumstances. Mountain driving on unfamiliar roads in the winter is always a risk.

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