I heard about the missing Kim family [ more recent Kim family missing] over at Techmeme [police information is here], thinking it’s unlikely I could offer any reasonable insight but it appears they were heading from Portland to Gold Beach on the Southern Oregon coast, an area with which I’m very familiar.
Online and printed mapping is sometimes problematic here in Southern Oregon and there’s a road that appears on many maps as a “shortcut” to Gold Beach. But in fact in winter it can be treacherous and often closes with snow. It’s the Merlin to Galice to Gold Beach route. Cell phones don’t work in this mountainous remote area along the Rogue River valley and the coast. A few folks have been lost (many more just scared out of their wits in bad weather) along this tricky route through the Siskiyou National Forest.
The troopers are probably examining this possibility (I’d say likelihood), and hopefully they’ll find the Kim family soon safe and sound.
Update: I called the Galice USFS District Ranger office and it appears the news had not reached there yet. They are advising against that route due to snow drifts that may not be cleared and confirmed that the route is not regularly patrolled. I’m going to follow up more on this angle shortly.
Update II: I just called the Northern Police dispatch number listed below and they did not seem well informed about local road situation, but indicated that the (Southern?) dispatch is following up. I’m going to call the Gold Beach ranger district to make sure they are aware of the situation. TuTuTun lodge, where the Kim’s were staying, is along the route I’m talking about (Via Lobster Creek bridge to North Bank Road) making it even more likely they may have taken the dangerous Bear Camp Road “shortcut” which has many logging road turn offs.
Update III: Gold Beach district said they’d heard of this on the news but I could not reach the road engineer or District Ranger to find out if people had checked extensively up there.
I fear this is a case where spreading the word won’t help much – rather a search of the many logging roads off of the Merlin to Gold Beach route is called for here.
Update 4: Update: As of 9 a.m. PST Friday, investigators said they were narrowing their search to Oregon’s Highway 38 as the family’s most probable route to their destination of Gold Beach. The Kims last spoke to an innkeeper there by phone about five hours before they planned to arrive.
Highway 38 seems less likely to me than Merlin Galice road, but I don’t have enough info to know if the police are using more than just intuition about the route. 38 is not nearly as hazardous as Merlin Galice / Bear Camp route, is travelled regularly, and unless they drove into the river there’d be signs of a crash. Without local info Kim could have correctly concluded that I-5 to Merlin would be faster than going via 101, and could also have (wrongly) concluded that the Merlin Galice route was short and safe.
Update 5: Leslie at CNET tells me that the SF Police are aware of Bear Camp as a possible location and appear to be searching in that area as well, which is good. I’ve contacted a friend in Gold Beach who will help spread the word as well.
From the news report:
James Kim is a senior editor at CNET and hosts the web site’s popular Crave blog.
Police said friends and family knew them to usually keep in daily contact.
According to Det. Angela Martin of the San Francisco Police Dept., the family had lunch with a friend in Portland on Saturday between 2-3 p.m., then left to travel to Gold Beach on the southern Oregon Coast.
According to San Francisco Police, the family made two phone calls to a Gold Beath hotel that afternoon, the second call at 5:45 p.m. On that second call, the family reportedly asked the hotel clerk to leave a key outside since they would be arriving late that night.
That phone call was the last reported contact with the family. The Gold Beach hotel did leave keys out for the Kim Family but the keys were still there the next morning.
According to the Kim’s cellular phone provider, the phone was last used after the lunch in Portland. Calls to the Kim’s cell phone later Saturday went straight to voice mail.
The Kims were driving a 2005 silver Saab station wagon with California personalized plates of DOESF.
Anyone with information is asked to contact Oregon State Police Northern Command Center Dispatch at 800-452-7888, or the San Francisco Police Department Missing Persons Unit at (415) 558-5508.