Kim Family still missing in Southern Oregon

Little new to report this Sunday morning on the seach for the Kim Family here in Southern Oregon. They were last seen in Roseburg, which should indicate they took either highway 42 over to Coos Bay on the coast or the Merlin to Galice “Bear Camp” route.

Based on the sketchy reports it appears to me that the most likely area they were lost in is on logging roads in the mountainous areas west of HERE , where you turn off to go to Agness and Gold Beach. I understand Josephine and Douglas county searchers are supposed to be focusing on this area after Curry county called off their search yesterday further to the west but I read that highway 42 appears to be the top area now. I simply don’t understand why the Kim’s would have passed up 38 to take 42, but it makes sense that they would have passed up both to take this Merlin route because it looks so short and easy on the map.

I’m following up today with calls to see if this area between Agness and Merlin has been searched exhaustively. I’m about 90 minutes away from there but don’t have a good vehicle for snowy areas so I think it’s best to leave the search to the professionals.

Update: it looks like some family and friends have come up from SF and are based in Grants Pass and coordinating a search effort. I’m trying to contact them to see about helping.

Wow, the internet could be put to much better use in this case, and that frustrates me. I called the Josephine Sheriff’s office who referred me to the message machine for search and rescue. I left a message saying I could volunteer to search starting tomorrow, but I’m now thinking I should follow my own best hunches about the location rather than waiting for the bureacratic coordination efforts.

I also emailed the site that says it’s for the family. They really should have some sort of forum. O’Reilly talks about harnessing the collective intelligence of the web, and it would seem you could do this with search and rescue. For example Kim Family search data should be flowing to centralized online places so dead ends are not followed twice and local energies are put to better use than “wondering” what’s going on. I’ve been worried about interfering with suggestions, but even in light of the new Roseburg citing I’m not clear the search is exhausting the obvious first choice area which are the mountain logging roads up from Merlin. I’m heading that way tomorrow on my own or as part of the organized search if they contact me.

Are bureaucratic channels inhibiting the best approach here? IMHO this would clearly be to have a master website that tracks all search activity using text entries over online mapping and encourages locals to search roads not yet followed.

I think the possibility of foul play in these cases may limit the way the police give out information. But in a case like this, where no foul play is likely and “lost in mountains” is very likely it would seem you want info about roads searched to flow much more freely than it has been.

Update: It appears the efforts are indeed focusing on 42 rather than Merlin/Agness area. I think this is not a logical route to follow for reasons I’ve detailed in earlier posts. [but perhaps I’m wrong – mapquest shows Roseburg to Powers to Agness to Gold Beach as shortest mileage I can find to TuTuTun Lodge from Roseburg] Bear Camp is not passable over to Gold beach but I’m going to try to reach the Agness cutoff road tomorrow and walk some of the logging spurs up there if the weather holds up.

Update II:  I talked to a friend of Kim family searcher today and it appears they’ve coverd much of the Agness high country, but not clear if they’ve covered the lower areas around Galice.   I may be discounting the Powers route as possible since I’m unfamiliar with it though my gut continues to say north and west of Galice, where they could have easily lost the road and headed up into logging roads.

11 thoughts on “Kim Family still missing in Southern Oregon

  1. I feel frustrated they they have not yet been found. Although I don’t know the area, from my standpoint, how difficult could it be to follow every single road/path they might have taken with 4x4s and even with sled dogs or something like that? The fact that there are areas which they have not even begun to search is frustrating. Time is of the essence.

    If you are so inclined and it’s safe, I encourage you to search on your own, but please be safe.

  2. I am in complete agreement with you regarding the Merlin-Galice Rd. It would be a likely choice especially if you were running late and thinking it would save a lot of driving. It would also be very very easy to take a wrong turn at Y in the road, especially with poor visibilty and even just a little snow on the ground to cloud judgement relating to which road is the most manicured. Logging roads are built for big trucks, sometimes well grated, and often confused with intended routes (signage is also not well maintained!).

    This sounds similar to the story about the Stiver’s. Authorities thought there was no way that the RV could have gotten that lost on logging roads (particularly in a northerly direction)and ultimately stopped looking 5 miles short of where they were waiting patiently to be rescued. Missing the turn off on BLM 34-8-36 from the Merlin-Galice Rd would be an obvios first mistake. The split or junction for NF-23 seems an even greater possibility. Both mistakes would quickly put you far from your intended destination as well as more confused. A small amount of snow can make back-tracking equally as problematic.

    I also think the best way to cover such a massive area is with helicopters and I sure hope they don’t lose the motivation to keep flying in these extensive areas! Driving these roads will also be useful, but there are an unbelievable amount of choices out there and it will be neccesary to cover ground very slowly to watch for any signs of a car having gone off the road.

    James Kim is a Tech savy guy, so I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that they considered a short-cut off of 42 down through Powers via the Powers Highway. They could have mistakenly gone that way and then asked someone for a short-cut. There appear to be many routes to the coast from Powers, but I am unfamiliar with the area and not sure which of those routes are well travelled or reccomended by locals. When seeking directions from Powers on mapquest and google to places like Sixes on the coast, many different routes come up. I think it would be unlikely that they would make a choice to travel country roads like these especially late at night in bad weather with kids in the car. The Merlin Galice Road would be a more likely choice to make when looking at maps prior to travel.

    I have found it almost impossible to guage the level of intensity of the search in the Merli-Galice area, but hope they are covering it with a microscope. Again, I feel the best thing anyone can do is to put the pressure on authorities to keep those helicopters flying. Maybe someone could contact Detective Brent Jensen in Ashland and see if he can help keep the right people motivated due to his experience with the case of the missing RV?

    I wish authorities would give some more detailed information to the public. It would be nice to know what they consider an exhaustive search. It would also be useful for others trying to help so as not to cover the same area twice since there is no time to waste in this initial search!

  3. My understanding is that there is a winter gate across the BearCamp Rd, and early on, before reaching that far, there are road closure signs that would be hard to miss. A friend who is a local here and knows the area well says he would bet on the Powers Hwy for an option. There are so so many roads, with more roads off those. But I would definately keep searching them. These search and rescue guys are very experienced, mind boggling where they can go, I am sure they are as frustrated as anyone, they are doing their best. My prayers to the Kim family, there is still much hope.

  4. Thanks for the Google map link, the satellite option really helped me understand the layout of the land/roads.

    How is the weather there now?
    Is it snowing (tracks being covered)?


  5. I am helplessly sitting here in far away CA. All I can do is send my positive “find them” and “comfort them” thoughts.

    I am drawn to this family’s pain and circumstances. Having traveled some of these roads before I can’t ignore my gut feeling of they’re THERE, somewhere off the Galice road or just northwest of Wolf Creek.

    Please, SOMEONE find them! Now 8 days after their last resturant meal, maybe a breastfeeding baby will be OK as long as mom has fluids and all can remain warm through each chilling night, yet this is rapidly becoming a dire situation.

    Here’s some contact numbers for Oregonians to call:

    Oregon State Police (they are now in charge of the search and resuce operation, and the 800# only works in OR)

    The communication center direct line is 503-731-3030

    Most important person who may talk to someone (e.g. News Media) is Lt. Gregg Hastings of OR State Police. He is the Public Information Officer who would have the latest information. His office number is acquired by calling
    503-731-3120 then pushing directory name of “HAST #”.

    To reach him try his personal media pager, 503-323-3195

    The OR State police should have an Incident Command Center established possibly near Roseburg. Can someone go there to offer help and get an update?

    QUESTION: Can a mobile cell repeater be brought into the area to try to call the Kim Family’s cell phone?

    Any updates would be helpful to ease the tummy summersaults.

  6. Thanks everyone. A-M great info, I’m also posting those phones in the next update. I just talked to a helper who was up above Merlin and through Wolf Creek looking for any signs of the Kims. He said the Josephine County Search and Rescue was up there and felt confident they had covered the high country well. He and I could not determine if the area west of Wolf Creek has been searched thoroughly yet.

  7. No, I don’t think there was any closed winter gate (just warning signs) for the Merlin route to coast.

    Vlad I understand that the weather was very bad Saturday night, so they probably drove up in the rain and then would have hit a lot of snow (snow here is tied to elevation). Reports say 6″ of snow over much of that area and I know even rescue trucks were having some problems a few days ago.

  8. Yes, the wife and children have been found, but the father is missing. My frustration stems from the fact I know they were directed to this “scenic” route by a website for directions. I live locally and know the terrain and time of year that I can cross Bear Camp. Punch it up on a website and see the route they give you! While I do believe in individual responsibility when it comes to decesion making/problem solving skills regarding the safety of family, my hope is that someone associated with the kim family will realize that a contributing factor in this issued is the route that has trapped and killed others over the years due to it appearance online of being a short and quick route to Gold Beach. Perhaps a lawsuit aimeed at the internet direction compaines would encourage them to research their directions more carefully. My frustration abounds. God Bless the Kim family.

  9. Joe, how right you were from the beginning. This whole story has made me sad and sick. I am surprised no one went up that road from the beginning with some kind of a snowmobile. I am not a snow fan but there had to be some way to go up that road earlier to look for them.

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