James Kim search continues. Tuesday 11:00 pm update

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11pm local news reports James is still missing with search scaled down for the night though I understand thermal equipped helicopter is flying the area.

I think the 5 mile search area assumes James got stuck following the Big Windy Creek drainage down to the river. I don’t know why they assume he did not make it to the River and out from there but I’m unfamiliar with that specific area’s terrain which may be so steep he could not have made it out and up or downriver from Big Windy.
Darkness has fallen here in Southern Oregon and James Kim is still missing in the Rogue River Wilderness west of Merlin and Galice, Oregon. Approximately 100 searchers combed the drainage of Big Windy Creek Area today. A pair of pants was found near the creek. Reports say he had taken an extra pair of pants and may have left these as a sign. Another object was sited but police won’t identify it until they have it in hand.

Police indicated they did not know why he walked into the drainage and seemed confused about this but I’d suggest clearly he was looking for Rogue River which would for James be the only key navigation feature in the area. I certainly hope they search the Rogue River banks carefully, especially downriver at least to Half Moon Bar Lodge (closed but caretakers there and he would not have likely passed this point).

Map of the Wild Section of the Rogue River

Google Map of the Rogue River Area where James Kim is expected to be.

Flash Alerts from Oregon State Police – note photo links at bottom of post

This helicopter report from KGW news:

05:50 PM PST on Tuesday, December 5, 2006

By FRANK MUNGEAM, kgw.com Staff A helicopter with the Oregon Army National Guard was scheduled to continue searching Tuesday night for James Kim, missing since Thanksgiving weekend in Southern Oregon.

An OH-58 Kiowa helicopter equipped with the Forward Looking Infrared System planned to scour the mountainous area overnight.

A second aircraft, a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter, was en route to its standby location at the Medford Airport, according to ONG spokesperson Kay Fristad. The Blackhawk is a medevac helicopter used for rescue operations and is equipped with a crew that includes flight medics, crew chief and two pilots. According to Fristad, the team is highly skilled in hoist operations, patient stabilization, and transport.

Crews are camped out waiting for daybreak.

My current thinking is that it’s very important to search the south bank of the river all the way down to Half Moon Bar Lodge. It seems logical to me that he would have followed the river downriver, knowing it would eventually lead to safety. In fact the original Gold Beach destination of the Kims was TuTuTun Lodge which is right on the Rogue river (though many days from Windy Creek, but James would not have known how far upriver he was).

I called the Half Moon Bar Lodge folks a few hours ago and learned that they are closed but there are caretakers there, so if James made it that far we’d have heard. Paradise lodge is on the other side of the river. A bad scenario is that he saw that lodge and tried to cross over the river which would be very dangerous. This is a wilderness area and there are no residences or even shelters that I know of between Black Bar Lodge (near Windy Creek but which presumably he missed) and Half Moon Bar, a distance of about 20 miles by river.

33 thoughts on “James Kim search continues. Tuesday 11:00 pm update

  1. Do you have google map coordinates for these various lodges as well as the point where James would run into the Rogue river from the stream he was following?

  2. If he went down the Big Windy Creek and turned down-river, wouldn’t he immediately find the Black Bar Lodge? Perhaps he went down the Little Windy Creek just beyond the lodge? Also I would have guessed that once they found the car they would use tracking dogs primarily from there, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Presumably he would continue staying along the river’s edge, so why don’t they drop searchers at one mile intervals down the river (by boat? helicopter?) to Half Moon Bar and search that whole length. They have said they had 100 searchers out today, apparently most still around the Windy Creek area. Or why not take search dogs down on a boat stopping at one mile intervals and see how far down they can find a scent?

  3. Thanks, with that drawn map I think I was able to find some coordinates.

    Just guessing with these google maps and the coordinates so not to be taken as gospel:

    His entry point to Rogue?

    Half Moon Bar Lodge?

    I’m assuming this one is correct since the satellite photo actually captured a plane and I remember somewhere that this Lodge apparently had an airstrip. The image of the building structure and roof color actually seems to match some of their photos on their site.

    Following the image, through Google Earth since it has the advantage of angling to see more detail, I found this spot:

    You can see two building structures and about 4 boats or rafts parked alongside at the river.

    This is 9 miles closer than the Half Moon Bar Lodge but on the other side of the river and 5 miles form Horseshoe Bend.

    Which is about 2.5 from my the point of entry at the Rogue that I linked to above.

    I have no experience in the area or with search and rescue, but I’m with you on the five mile point you made. I’ve watched the press interviews and the sheriff says he’s treating this like the guy is still alive, but it seems the entire strategy is built around trying to track his path down the drainage by catching up from behind while reading tracks. But if you really believed the guy was alive and moving why not chopper in seasoned winter backpackers (I’m sure Kim’s family would pay given that they have rented aircraft already) with necessary supplies and communication equipment to set up camps at strategic locations along the river? At the very least, set up a camp where he would be expected to come out to the Rogue? The problem is if he is on the move and past their five mile target then they aren’t going to find him and it will be up to him to make it all the way to the first inhabited lodge.

    The sheriff did mention something in this evening’s interview about sending a team to go up from the river and come up and meet the team that is tracking down the drain. I’m not sure why it wasn’t done today? To me it sounds like they are on a recovery mission and not a rescue because it makes sense to try to get ahead or in front of your “moving” target rather than trying to catch up while reading tracks. Its highly unlikely he would leave sight of the waterway paths. You don’t need skilled trackers. You just need some hardened Alaskan hikers types with communications and tracking equipment to say “we spotted him” and wait for the choppers.

    I’m sure some search and rescue person is looking at all that and wondering how someone could be so ignorant. The view from the layman.

  4. Where Are All the Predator Drones When We Need One?

    Reader post by: Mike Mullett
    Posted on: December 5, 2006, 8:57 PM PST

    Story: Searchers believe they are nearing missing CNET editor

    Predators to the Rescue

    Where Hurricane Katrina hit last year, the Air Force wanted to send in Predator drones, to serve as robotic spotters for search-and-rescue teams. The Federal Aviation Administration, still squeamish about drones flying in civilian airspace, negged the plan, however — too much risk of a crash with a manned aircraft, the bureaucrats said.

    But a new deal between the flyboys and the FAA should allow the Predators to pitch in, the next time disaster hits.

    “A Predator would be limited to flying in restricted airspace at an altitude of 19,000 feet,” Defense News reports. “Other aircraft would be expected to stay out of the Predator’s way.”

    On short notice, the four disassembled [Predators] and their trailer-like control center could be loaded into a C-17 Globemaster III transport plane or on trucks and dispatched to the disaster region…

    From an airfield as far as 150 miles from the search area, a team of two pilots and two sensor operators would handle the Predators’ takeoffs and landings.

    Back at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., pilots and sensor operators would fly the search-and-rescue phase of the sortie and be in radio or phone contact with recovery operations workers. The Air Force uses a similar split operation for flights over Iraq and Afghanistan.

    In a disaster zone, Air Force tactical air control parties and others could use laptop computers hooked up to small antennas to view live Predator images and talk with the crews flying the aircraft.

    In addition to sending pictures from its thermal imaging and video cameras, the Predator can also determine location coordinates for rescuers. For example, the Predator can provide an approximate Global Positioning System map coordinate for anything it sees. At night, the aircraft’s laser spotter can mark areas for rescuers wearing night-vision goggles.

    September 15, 2006 08:58 AM | Drones

  5. The bit about retreiving the object of interest tomorrow with a helicopter dropping someone down is a bit mysterious, but hopefully it’s something that fell out of James’ pocket into an tricky spot to reach.

    It does seem strange to me that the search team is concentrating so much in what they say is a 5-mile long drainage area when the person they are looking for entered it a couple of days prior. I understand that it’s a steep sloping area with difficult terrain and downed trees, but they make it sound like a canyon with no exit. If someone still had their wits about him why would he be wandering about the bottom of the drainage area for a couple days?

    I’m hoping and praying for the best…

  6. DavidLewis – yes, you are right that Big Windy is upriver from Black Bar Lodge and Little Windy. They’ve searched that lodge carefully with no signs he was there. I am assuming he could have missed that lodge as he made his way out and down but I’m not familiar enough to know if that’s true. I do know it’s hard to miss Half Moon Bar Lodge which is why I think that’s a logical end point for an intense search of the Rogue River Canyon going south.

    I hate to be an armchair rescuer but it should be noted that the pilot that found the car was in fact a private guy unrelated to the organized search. I’m learning from this that organized search efforts have priorities that do not necessarily maximize the success ratio.

  7. Bruce I think an earlier poster marked it on an online topo map link. It’s at the Bear Camp lookout area. I have not studied this carefully but I’m under the understanding he walked back up – probably east – along the road they came in on for about 2 miles, and then headed down into the Big Windy Drainage. I speculate somewhat wildly that he was scoping out the area with plans to return to the car but then decided he’d increase the chances they’d be found by heading down the Rogue. This is very speculative but it’s consistent with what I see as a ‘strategy’ for getting more paths to get the kids found.

  8. Thanks JoeDuck for this forum, and updates. Here is some speculation and unanswered questions.

    I think that James’ intention was to go for help, whatever lay ahead. The 1pm return deadline on Saturday was meant to avoid objections, debate with family and difficult goodbye.

    What at first seemed just a matter of following James’ tracks down a drainage, has become more and more complex. After leaving the road and perhaps descending a clearcut area which was not too steep, I don’t think that he anticipated the steep stone canyon at Horseshoe Bend. Once committed to a steep drop-off, he had to go forward, with risks. Terrain was so rough that snow-machines, horses and dogs could not pursue. If a fugitive from justice were to plan this as an escape from trackers, I can not think of a better venue.

    The first tracking party to go down the drainage on Monday afternoon came back soaking wet, but they were crossing back and forth through the creek, looking for signs on either bank. James would try to stay dry, if possible, not having to search. I would expect that the going would be slow, more bushwhacking than hiking, with no trail on Big Windy Creek, and no south bank trail later on the Rogue. Lots of ups and downs over fallen trees, boulders, pushing branches aside, and slippery canyon walls.

    About this 5 mile search zone: I think that maybe the SAR effort decided that the canyon was not passable to James without technical gear or injury. If he set out early Saturday morn, then the pants found in the ravine would have been discarded on the first day, and he would be further downstream. I also think that SAR is proceeding cautiously, by training, allowing for either rescue or recovery. They are searching very thoroughly, and do not want to have to go over this stretch of creek, canyon and river again if there is no success this week. James, on the other hand, would be moving as fast as strength and safety would allow.

    I agree with JoeDuck that all possibilities should be considered. Perhaps more of a bottom-up approach, than a top-down (closer to the car) search. Or both. Without Horsehoe Bend, searching along the lower river would be faster.

    PBS Oregon Field Guide recently featured extreme kayakers who can descend down the steepest rapids and boulder strewn waterfalls, as sport. They carry lightweight kayaks on shoulders, hiking upstream and portaging around cliffs. These fellows would have been valuable earlier today to make a quick survey of the river while the other searchers were getting started.

    And strength is a real factor now, after almost fasting for 9 days while still at the car, then facing this ordeal which would be challenging in the best of situations. Tonight (Tues) will be the 4th night of exposure, possibly without shelter. We can hope that he would build a fire, and that could be spotted by choppers above. Reports of a backpack were ambiguous, but I think that any food provisions would have been left at the car for the family. One can go without food for days, but it is needed for energy and body heat.

    Earlier today, in the 1:30 update at Sfgate.com, it was mentioned that there were two hot spots detected by thermal detectors flying above. Then, after the discovery of the pants and the news conference, no further mention of this was made. Perhaps it was deer or coyotes?

    Earlier, reference was made to James having snowshoes. This was never resolved, but is moot now since they would not be usable near the river. At one time it was stated that he had two lighters and perhaps a camera strobe. Not having a hat or hood in the cold nights would be a liability, since so much body heat is lost around the neck and head. Hopefully, he does have an extra shirt or something to wrap around his head. It was stated that he had either a light jacket or heavy jacket over a sweater. Hopefully these are still dry. But cotton jeans, when wet, don’t help much, especially with sneakers and light socks, possibly also wet. Kati had serious frostbite on one toe, and that was without 4 days of exposure. If James is getting cold toes, he can still keep moving on foot, while energy lasts.

    Well, that is what has been on my mind while reading various news reports over the last many days. I’m still hoping that there will be a positive outcome, if James can manage to find whatever shelter with fire that he can arrange. It is too easy to speculate from afar how things should go, and I appreciate all of the effort that SAR agencies and volunteers are devoting to this.

    Hope for the Kim family. Encouragement for everyone searching.

  9. From the SF Chronicle photo of the search map it appears the Kim family was located at the location marked with the blue symbol:


    It is quite a long ways from that road down the Big Windy Creek and out to the Rogue River (5 miles?). As I understand it, it seems they are assuming James has not made it out to the Rogue River.

  10. ZCU – thanks for those coordinates. There are some shelters on the other side of the river such as Zane Grey’s and Rogue River Ranch. These are not occupied and this is a BIG River so I’m hoping he did not try to swim it to reach those, if indeed he headed downriver as we’ve speculated.

  11. Allen – the officer at briefing today suggested he did NOT know where the Snowshoes report came from. Assume he did NOT have them but as you say they would not have helped.

    Thermal spots – they said there is a lot of wildlife that give signals. They then follow up in morning.

    “Woods so thick the choppers can’t see the searchers directly below them”

  12. Thank you Joe, for the information you have been posting throughout the day. I found your blog doing a Google search on Bear Camp Rd. And I have been keeping an eye on your site for three days now. I’ve been following the ordeal of the Kim family since the beginning and I’m quite caught up in it all. Your blog has good information and reading the comments from others with their concern and theories has also been informative.

    Hoping for the best.

  13. I believe the Kim family car was found here, based on the SFgate pic posted

    42 deg 37’47.23″ N
    123 deg 47’17.73″ W

    The road appears to be BLM 34-9-8 or a branch off of it…

    I hope they find James.

    Any idea how much snow is on the ground?

  14. From the map on SFgate, using Google Earth, I had picked the same spot for the car that davidlewis and mike have posted. It ends about a mile further along, and if Google is right it’s at a relatively low altitude of 2400′, having been a spur off Bear Camp Road at about 3000′ about 2 miles back.

    Up until this point, Bear Camp Road had more or less run west – parallel and to the north of route 23. But to the west they diverge. It really looks as if the only chance would have been to turn back at once when they drove onto Bear Camp.

    If James Kim was heading somewhat NE and down lower ground, at some point he’d intersect the river, as joeduck has noted. The elevation of the river at that point varies from 500-1000 feet.

  15. Bayporter the pilot who found them is a local very familiar with the area and he noted tonight on TV that this road is an easy one to turn off on and others have made this turn before which is why he searched there.

  16. Mike and davidlewis both report the car about the same location. This is shown at http://www.topozone.com/map.asp?lat=42.63332&lon=-123.83922&u=4&datum=nad27&layer=DRG .

    There is a clearing about 3000 feet eastsoutheast, along the suspected route. The topo map shows a “RADIO FACILITY” at the peak. Any idea what that is?

    The aerial photos show a clearing. Unless James had a specific destination, this peak would be an obvious first stop, to get a look around. Maybe he thought he saw something of interest.

    If getting to the river was the goal, BLM 34-8-36 road might have been a better choice.

  17. Any ideas what berries they were eating but suspected poisonous? Would James encounter any other food? At some point one would retry the berries unless ill-effects were evident.

  18. Thanks joeduck. You are keeping good track. Here are links to a couple of short video clips that I shot on Monday just east of the Bear Camp turn off. It gives you a good idea of what the snow was like on the east side at the turn off.


    I did not go very far down 34-8-36 as it was getting late in the day. My thought at the time (not knowing the details of the rescue then)was that he would have headed east. Maybe he misjudged east and headed north (unfortunately down towards the river). In this case he may have not be trying to go down river as the goal but could not hike back out. With all of the activity in the area he should be trying hard to get spotted from the air (he would be able to hear them) if he is still kickin’… damn I wish him the best of luck…

    Also, I did not make myself a liability going up there. I was well equipped and I’m formaly trained in wilderness survival. I just wanted to move fast and see if something may have been missed on the east side.

  19. and to add regarding altitude, had they originally stayed on route 23 and not turned north onto Bear Camp Road, they would have climbed from 3500′ to as high as 4700′ feet within 10 miles with what looks like another 12 miles to go to reach anything else.

  20. Joe,

    Thank you so very much for providing this space. As others have noted, it by far provides the best information. My prayers and thoughts are with everyone involved, the family, the searchers and rescuers. Hopefully James will be found this morning.

    In my book James is a Hero and wonderful father. I remember a story a few years ago of a man who got lost and waited in the truck over 2 months to be rescued, and unfortunately did not make it. I can certainly understand why after a week he would take off. Interestingly, the helicopter pilot who first spotted Kati waving the umbrella said in an interview that he was following James footprints in the snow when he found them. To me that indicates that James walking is what saved his family – tragic that he is in peril himself, but what a courageous, selfless act. My prayers are with him and his family.

  21. Tara – I was under the impression it would be 11:21 am, with data download about 2 hours later. lots of fog this morning is my understanding. It might have burned off over there by … right now when the Satellite is above us. We are clear here in Talent but I fear the valley over there would still have lots of fog.

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