James Kim’s body found in Rogue River Wilderness.

The comments section has a lot more about this story.

James Kim is not alive. My sincere condolences go out to his wife and children. I know their safety was his top concern and he’d be so glad to know they made it out of the wilderness safely. Based on the best info I have today from a TV interview with the local pilot who found Kati and the kids it was James’ footprints down the road that he left on Saturday that initially alerted the pilot to the approximate location of the car. In my book, that was a heroic walk.I know the condolences, thoughts, and prayers of people all over the world are going out to the family of James Kim.

Kim Family Website

A lot of people are asking me a lot of questions here in the comments section and I’ll try to answer them when I know more. I’ve only had limited contact with some searchers and Scott, who worked very hard on a very noble effort to help coordinate information and many volunteers who were involved in the “unofficial” search. He was a close friend of the Kim’s and I think this must be a very difficult time for everybody closely involved with them. We should all hope to have such sincere and hard working friends, family, and rescue workers in the event of our own personal misfortune.

Oregonlive has a detailed account of the confusion surrounding the search effort.

KGW and Oregon Live have more coverage of the Kim Family story which has now captivated many people all over the world. However as local info comes in I’m alarmed by how it appears some big news places are misreporting important facts. Key story items to clarify 1) James Kim was dead when he was found. MSNBC initially suggested he was left overnight in the woods because searchers could not reach him. This is almost certainly false. 2) It remains unclear exactly when James died. Coroner suggests it was about two days which would have been Sunday night or Monday morning and probably before the ground search began. 3) The pilot that found Kati and Kids was a local resident who owned his own chopper and was not associated with the search directly. He stated on TV that he was very familiar with the area and felt for “the kids”.

Here is a link to a good series of images from another site showing the Rogue River area near Black Bar Lodge where the Kims were finally found but I understand ONLY FIRST IMAGE has correct car location. The initial reports of car location were wrong.

Another image showing the location and James’ walk – thanks Greg.

(I’ve removed an image I had here which did not have correct car location. For many days the correct location of the car and therefore the length of the walk by James Kim was reported incorrectly.)

The comments section has a lot more about this story. A LOT more!


1,033 thoughts on “James Kim’s body found in Rogue River Wilderness.

  1. I’ve been following this story for a week on your site, sir, and let me say that I’m grateful for the updates and information you have provided to a curious and worried onlooker from Michigan. I can only hope that the latest news is accurate, and I wish the best to the rescuers and all the members of the Kim family. I only regret that more resources weren’t utilized in the most likely places where Mr. Kim might have been.

  2. Just heard and read James was found face down. They are attempting to retrieve him now. By the sounds of the trail of clothing, he may have suffered typical signs of severe hypothermia. My prayers are will his family and friends at this trying time. Many Blessings. Awaiting confirmation on news details….

  3. The news looked better when I first posted (#2.) Never stop hoping, please be OK… Like everyone else, I will wait and hope.

  4. I really hope all these reports are not true. I’d say wait till there is confirmation. I feel almost ill, like a member of my own family is gone 😦

  5. Although I did not hear them say he’s dead it was clear they thought he was and KGW reports he’s dead. I cannot imagine the pain the family must be going through right now, but I’m sure James would be so glad to know his family survived and are now safe.

  6. from official oregon state police website.
    Update: Search for James Kim Ends; Searches Located Him Deceased –

  7. I don’t want to call it until I hear from the news briefing. I’m not expecting much.

    EnGadget are breaking with the news that he as sadly passed away.

  8. thanks for summarizing and keeping the information flowing. Sad ending to an already tragic story.

  9. on KTVU.com website, they have a clip from a reporter in a helicopter who broke the news of the body spotted. The quality of the audio is not so good, but it sounded like the body was floating face down in the water just above Black Rock Lodge.

    So sad…

  10. News Release from: Oregon State Police
    Posted: December 6th, 2006 1:00 PM

    Josephine County Undersheriff Brian Anderson confirmed Wednesday afternoon that the body of JAMES KIM was found by searchers deceased at approximately 12 noon. His body was found within the area of focus in the Big Windy Creek drainage.

    The KIM family requests the media not attempt to contact them and to respect their privacy during this time.

    No further information to release at this time.

  11. With a heavy heart I send the family and friends my thoughts and prayers and a wish for healing.

    I wish that this tragic event had never happend. Now that it has happend we can learn from it. Let’s not forget these lessons.

  12. Ohhh…………

    May James Rest In Peace.
    He loved his family and he tried his best until the very end.
    My heartfelt Sympathy to the Kim and Fleming families.

  13. This is very sad news. James is a true hero and his family should be proud.

    Can those of you in Oregon *please* put forth an effort to get that road closed during the winter and at night?

  14. My husband and I have been saddened by this news. In July, 2005, we naively took the same road the Kim family did. Our college age son was with us and we were in a mid-size rental car (our first trip to Oregon). What we were told would be a short cut, took us 4 terrifying hours to maneuver with heavy rain threatening to fall on us. Tourists do not belong on this road. The turning back reflex is an odd one, it clicks off in some circumstances.

    Our deepest sympathy to the families. And thank you for being sensitive in your reporting of this tragedy.

  15. Sorry to hear he died. Have been wondering
    how far the family car was away from the
    more main road and how far away it was in
    total miles from Grant’s Pass. What was the
    elevation of the car? What is the elevation
    of Grant’s Pass?

  16. very sorry to hear this ending.

    i can’t say i agree with the above poster that bear camp road should be closed at night. this is a wilderness forest road, and many thousands of miles of mountain forest road exist in the west. you can’t just close every road and hope something like this doesn’t happen. everyone please take your safety into your own hands and thoroughly research your driving routes, especially this time of year.

    i know friends of the kims, and my heart goes out to them.

  17. anybody…. any idea whether this news report accurate?

    “…Searchers told NBC News that they located Kim on Tuesday and at one point they were able to make direct contact with him. They explored ways to lower a medic to the area, they said, but it was not immediately clear whether that attempt ultimately failed or was too late to save Kim. Rescuers frantically tried to work out ways to reach Kim in the impassable snow-jammed area over the next hours, Anderson said, but they couldn’t make it in time…”


  18. Joe; I am sure you are feeling regret you couldn’t arrange more emphasis on the Bear Camp option early on, I know I am because it occured to me as soon as I heard they were missing, but I didn’t settle on that as most likely till I had heard they were known to have eaten in Roseburg. We can regret ourselve to heck and gone and it won’t change the past. Please, can’t we do something to get people to stop using that route in bad weather?

    Maybe this can be our way to make it up to the family that James’ legacy be that we do something to make sure no one else dies by making the mistake of taking that route in bad weather.

  19. Amazing to read the reports on MSNBC about the searchers actually making direct contact with Kim at some point on Tuesday but could not get supplies or help to him. Looks like they just ran out of time. That had to be ultimately frustrating for the Sheriff and the searchers. I sure hope no one made an administrative decision not to fly – I am sure some of the chopper jocks would have gone in anyway.

  20. Kip, #26: Just read the same story and I’m wondering the same thing. Maybe it coincides with a “flash” from the ground that someone in a chopper apparently saw earlier that day. I saw this mentioned in a story or two, but to my knowledge it hasn’t been followed up on.

    Chuck, #24: I think the elevation of the car was 3000 ft.

  21. Yes the fog of news as it is breaking…amazing though how we all handle news now…it is more like a steady stream of information and mis-information until hopefully the accurate story bubbles to the surface.

    Having made contact would explain the emotional response of the Sheriff knowing he was alive but they could not reach him in time…the whole situation is a shame. Tough time of the year for this family and friends now.

  22. Throughout this tragic situation I have been struck by the irony that both James and Kati had in their possession a high-tech electronic device capable of line of sight communication over many miles. Why is there no device in existance that a helicopter or plane could use, flying a grid pattern, that could pick up pings from specific telephones when passing over and use that to hone in on. At 5,000 or 10,000 feet it should be capable of line of sight contact with many square miles at any given point, and should be able to cover hundreds if not thousands of square miles in a day. This would cover the entire area of possible routes between Roseburg and Gold Beach in a day or two. If their cell phone had been picked up Thursday or Friday this tragic situation would have had a much different ending.

  23. Joe I know it must be very frustrating for you. You were on-target with your suggestions on where to search. I guess they never figured he would have made it that far.

    I guess he was only 1/2 mile from Bear Lake Lodge…WOW

  24. Just looked at that “drainage area” on Google Earth. It was an amazing, if dolorous, feat that Mr. Kim made it as far as he did. That looks like tough country, and it gets worse the closer one gets to the Rouge River. Up where he started, it probably looked like a reasonable way to get downstream; in a weakened and cold state I imagine he was committed by the time he started to wonder if this was a really good idea.

    David, your suggestion re: SAR interface with a cellphone sounds like a good one. Especially since phones are increasingly able to squawk their lat/lon.

    May James’ gallant spirit shine in his daughters he and Kati saved.

  25. Here’s some info after tonight’s local news but as Glenn noted the fog of breaking news is prevailing right now on some of this stuff. I think by tomorrow morning we’ll have a much better sense of when and how he died.

    The police, local news I watched, and ABC TV gave no indications they saw him alive or before today (Wed).

    Cause of death and perhaps time of death will be reported by coroner tomorrow around 10am. Most seem to speculate it was hypothermia and I’m presuming it was on the first night out but have seen nothing to confirm that. One reporter (local) tonight said the searchers “could not get in front of him” which seemed very odd, as if he was alive and tracked but not fast enough. I do NOT think this was the case.

    Tonight’s interview with the pilot who found them (a local living in that area with his own chopper) confirmed that he did in fact first see James footprints which led him to Kati waving the umbrella. He then radioed for the search choppers who were minutes away and it appears the search and rescue contacted their snow cats who were just a short distance away.

  26. Tara and Glenn – No, I was wrong to think he probably made it out of the drainage and south on the river. He was found in the Windy Creek Drainage based on all reports I’ve seen. There is a “Big Windy Creek” and “Little Windy Creek” south of there and Black Bar is down Little Windy I think. It’s not clear to me if he probably could have seen Black Bar Lodge from where they found him. If so this is even more tragic.

  27. Leslie – yes, it feels kind of weird to review the early posts on where they might be. I’m now planning to head over there in the spring to see about the route and signage and I think a lot of people will recommend some changes to the BLM and USFS to make the signs even more ominous. I don’t think they can close that road because it is used a lot by locals.

  28. I think it is possible that he made that much distance in the first day. He had a mission – he knew he didn’t have a lot of time. The fact that he left the clothes and article in a pattern to me indicates he wasn’t planning on staying out in the woods. I think he was planning to get back to the car and just couldn’t connect the dots back up. Probably because he was blocked, etc…

    Although it seems he had a pretty good sense of direction.

    Another point there is a psychic (now hold on…don’t all jump on me about this) that predicted James was in serious trouble and that they needed to head up and not down to find him. Go up go up…to find James and he said they had to hurry. I read that info at some point on Monday.

    This is a tough time of year for this and will be especially difficult for family and friends.

  29. I’m saddened by how the events ended, but heartened too by the humanity that this tragedy has brought out in an online community that often seems obsessed with gadgets and gizmos and other inanimate, impersonal things.

    It gives me hope that we, as strangers connected over vast distances via our computers (I’m in Canada), can come together as neighbors and a force for humanity. Although nothing came of it, the idea of volunteers scanning fresh satellite images in these situations is hopefully something that can be pushed forward for the next time. The idea of portable equipment to track cellphone signals is also great.

    I have found it invaluable in these situations to have someone like you, joeduck, “on the ground” monitoring local media coverage and providing local insights. Local media are always more responsible and accurate in these situations because they know the people involved in the operations and are accountable after the national story fades away.

    My heart goes out to the Kim family. They should know that James, Kati and those two little kids have touched the lives of many people and made us all just a little more human these last two weeks. I have a feeling good things will come from this for very many people in the future.

  30. Mr. Duck, the Sheriff said Mr. Kim was found 1/2 mile up the crick — that’s back up in the gorge. There was a 500 foot high ridge between James and the river, so he probably had no way of knowing that he was close to the river. He had several more bad spots to get past, including at least one that looks like sheer rock down to the water.

    If he entered the ravine at the cleared spot that looks likely from the GIS data, then he walked about 4 miles down the ravine. It looks like truly awful terrain. Motivated barely begins to describe the state of mind he must have attained.

  31. Tommo – Hey my good pal, I know I could count on you if I get lost. Unfortunately I’m probably the guy who’d get us both lost up there.

    Dominto – really nice comment, great optimism, and thanks.

  32. A forest ranger indicated that taking the turnoff to the BLM roads is a very easy mistake to make – they look very similar to Bear Creek Rd. He also indicated that there was supposed to be a gate blocking off that whole network of roads from Bear Creek Road over the winter, but that vandals had cut the chain or whatever and the gate was open. Adding to the problem, Bear Creek Road appears on some maps to be similar to 42 (both appearing as similar yellow secondary roads). It looks straighter and more direct than 42. A series of circumstances all leading to tragedy. That said he almost made it out, an amazing effort begun after a full week of exposure to the cold and without food. Some of the searchers said the only way down was to repeatedly cross the creek whenever one side was blocked by sheer cliff, trees or heavy brush. To get as far as he did under those conditions is nothing less than heroic.

  33. [I wrote this while offline earlier today, with no news after the morning conference. When I returned here later to post my thoughts, I sadly learned that the search was over.]

    [And I considered not posting this, because of the events of the day, but I feel that it is now appropriate to memorialize the ordeal that James endeavored.]

    As I continue to hope for the best, I know that James must have been aware of the constant air activity overhead, from Monday afternoon till now (midday Wed.), and this would also give him hope, whatever his situation, that his family had been found and that help was on the way. Not just a single chopper, but many overflights scanning the drainage and canyons.

    As one follows rivergrade down, this forest becomes steeper and visibility more impenetrable. Any clearings, or patches of clearcut forest from logging operations, are at the higher elevations, closer to the network of roads. If he has no way to signal rescuers (whistle, mirror, flare, or fire) and no plumes of smoke have been spotted, then retreating up the drainage would make more sense, realizing that he could be visually spotted in a clearing. Although he had two lighters, he may have used them up for warmth, signaling, navigation in the dark, or there may not have been any dry tinder near the creek bed to start a larger fire.

    Looking at maps of the network of logging roads in the area, one realizes why these linked turns are often called “switchbacks”. Up, down, and compass directions are not useful in this winding maze. After the snowfall on Saturday night, their tire tracks would have been covered. A route down may be a deadend logging “spur” road. And going uphill may be the way out. Each season, new clearcuts and logging roads may be added, often unsigned later in the year. Truck drivers and firewood cutters stop at the district USFS ranger stations to get crude updated maps. Without these, and in the dark and snow, navigation can be difficult.

    Where the car was found, is only about a third of the way into this rugged backcountry. Without the luxury of online maps of their predicament, the Kims must have thought that they had made more westward progress than they did. James had 7 days to ponder this and make a decision on which direction to commit. With no sign of rescue activity after a week, few supplies and no source of heat, he may have felt that staying with the car was no longer an option.

    The Ashland family stranded earlier this year in a similar situation, but inside a well-stocked RV, was rescued after 2 weeks, when some of them hiked out along roads for help.

    If James had only a road map, there would be no topographic features shown to reveal the hazards of a deepening Big Windy Creek drainage. Sat. morning at 7:45 am is just after sunrise in this part of the state, and he was ready to go. [Evidently, he and Kati discussed his planned trip out, in depth, the night before. She may have relayed this to SAR, about the drainage he would follow.]

    With luggage and clothing for the family’s weeklong trip, James would have a choice of extra clothing to take along, and hopefully has a few more dry items in backpack. The socks and t-shirt could be used as gloves/scarf/hat, especially if not cotton. It has been speculated that discarding clothing is not a hopeful sign in exposure conditions, but abandoning extra, wet cotton items as trail markers is smart. Finding a coat, or sweater or shoes would be worrisome.

    About weather. Dry weather here in winter means cold, clear nights, with minimal cloud cover and wind, and often foggy mornings before sun appears. Approaching frontal systems (maybe by Friday/Sat) bring warmer southwest winds and moisture from the ocean. Normally, temperature will decrease 3 degrees for every 1000 feet of elevation gain, but in this forest drainage, the lower elevations are actually colder. Cold air, like water, will sink down to find the lowest terrain, draining off the higher snowy slopes. The forecasted low for the Willamette Valley on Tuesday night was 26 degrees. The creeks will keep running unless it gets really cold, but there can be ice on the canyon walls and creek boulders. For shelter, a cave or burrow in the earth above the bottom of ravines, covered by boughs would protect against the cold, if clothes are still dry. To keep the core body temperature up, a source of heat is needed – fire, food, or muscular exertion by either moving around or shivering. There may be some uncertain berries, pine nuts, or greens to forage, with poison oak to avoid. Water is abundant, but cold snow or river melt will chill the body.

    My earlier comment about the first searchers getting soaked in the Big Windy Creek looking for tracks was incorrect. They had to continually cross/wade the creek just to make progress downstream. James would have had to do likewise, getting coat, jeans and shoes soaked.

    About the volunteer SAR effort. After the family was found Monday afternoon, Eugene Mountain Rescue headed to the area and left the trailhead at 10pm. After many hours of slow searching in the dark with lights, they bivouacked on bare ground at 4am. They put on all layers of clothing they had, covered by rain gear, and slept till dawn, when they continued to search until noon. Then they were relieved by other teams for the next shift. In 12 hours of searching along the drainage, they covered only 1500 km. (less than a mile.) These are trained rescue climbers, with adequate provisions and in top shape, who did not spend the previous week stranded with little food in an unheated car.

    The personal clothing item retrieved by heli with lowered cable was in an area so steep that trained SAR with technical gear could not grab it. I think that this may have been the reason that the search yesterday (Tues) was concentrated within the 5 mile area. Their reasoning could have been that if SAR could not make progress, James also would be hindered by this steep canyon. [Later this effort was called “superhuman”, to have moved along so far, without proper gear, clothing, skills, and with diminished physical energy.] [When the search ended, the team of searchers was only ¼ mile upstream – that is merely once around a running track..] These sheer canyon walls have been eroded smooth by thousands of years of constant erosion by rushing water and rock, and difficult to climb. James’ final location was in such a site, with no easy route down, and no strength to retreat back to the car.


    James’ valiant and determined last efforts over many days, to find help for his beloved family, will always be remembered.

    May his family and friends take comfort and gain strength from this.

  34. Allen, I hope you send to the Kim family your thoughts about James’ inspiring effort to find help for his family. I am sure they are overwhelmed by grief but there will be a time in the future when they will reflect on everything, and I think that would give them some comfort. You could probably send it to the website set up by friends or to CNET.

  35. I’m at a loss of words over this news. I wish so badly that it would have turned out differently.

    I only know James through his reports at CNET, but I can tell that he put out into the world a kind of positive, warming and calming energy. You can just feel it. I hope that all those who have had the privledge to have been touched by James’s energy can honor and cherish it and spread this same kind of energy around in their own lives.

  36. Thanks, David, for this idea. I’ll add these edited comments from my earlier post, included below for continuity.


    When leaving the car, I think that James’ real intention was to go for help, whatever lay ahead. Returning to the car with nothing accomplished and the uncertainty of more waiting was not a move forward. I believe that the 1pm return deadline on Saturday was meant to avoid objections, debate with family and a difficult goodbye.

    What at first seemed just a matter of following James’ tracks down a drainage, has become more and more complex. Once committed to a steepening drop-off, he had to go forward, with increasing risks. Terrain was so rough that snow-machines, horses and dogs could not pursue.

    I would expect that the going would be slow, more bushwhacking than hiking, without a passable trail to follow. Lots of ups and downs through brush, over fallen trees, boulders, pushing branches aside, slippery canyon walls, and wading across the creek.

    Reports of a backpack were ambiguous, but I think that any remaining food provisions would have been left at the car for the family. One can exist without food for many days, but it is needed for energy, strength and body heat.

    And strength is a real factor now, in a weakened condition from no sustenance, facing this journey which would be challenging in the best of situations. Tonight (Tues) will be the 4th night of exposure in sub-freezing temps, possibly without shelter.

    During the search it was too easy to speculate from afar how things should go, but I know that all of us greatly appreciate the determined efforts that SAR agencies and volunteers have devoted to this.

    Keep hoping for the best.

  37. Replying to the comment that the terrain was too steep to go up, Google Earth doesn’t replicate the scale, or what you experience when you are on the ground. Still, you can tell how steep the canyon walls are. A There is no bank on the creek to walk up the creek on and you can tell that the slopes of the canyon are steeper than 100% in grade (meaning that you climb more than 1 vertical foot for each horizontal foot of travel. There isn’t solid footing, there is downed timber all over the place and the trees are massive. This just isn’t terrain suitable to bipedal motion 🙂 Do you notice how none of the logging roads make their way down that canyon? There is a reason for that. The terrain is too steep to log cut the timber.

    I think the picture linked below shows best what the terrain is really like. James walked most of the way down to the river. (not as close as the KMZ file makes it appear, he was 1/2 mile from the Rogue River)I’m amazed at this. There is NO bank by the stream, you have super steep canyon wall on both sides and a creek running down it. There is no way to get up the canyon besides walking up the stream.

  38. Hi everybody. I just watched the press conference video:


    Careful inspection of the map shown in the video reveals that what we have thought about the location of the Kim’s car was wrong. According to the map in the press conference the car was actually located just half a mile from the river! James hiked about five miles away from the river by road and then back almost to the river again in the creek bottom. Here is a link to a Google Earth map showing where the Sheriff Dept’s says they found the Kim’s car, the pants, another article of clothing, and James’ body:


    What a disapointing end to the story. I wish he could have survived to tell us about his ordeal. RIP James.

  39. Pingback: Advanced Technology Products Interactive » Blog Archive » James Kim found deceased

  40. Hi,
    Thanks dc & Spenser for the KMZ and picture\description of the area. I am from the UK and have just picked up on this news while surfing the web. It’s pretty rare in the UK for this kind of thing to happen as we are a relatively small country with people living all over the place. Looking at how remote this area is gives an eyeopener to how big the USA is and how remote some of the areas are. I take my hat off to James who gave it his all to get help for his family.

  41. Joe,

    thank you for all your reports…I was hanging onto them for several days, but I had a question;

    What made you write in your headline, when James was first found: ‘James found-ALIVE !’….you made me feel like I had just kicked a winning 50-yard field goal in the Super Bowl…then all of a sudden, you changed the headline to say ‘unknown condition’ (flag on the play, waiting for review)…then the final word: James is dead (flag on offense, time expired)

    I went from an amazing high (yelling ‘yes’ at the top of my lungs inside my cubicle)…to crying outside of our office building within 15 minutes.

    What made you write ‘alive’ ?…was that one of the first reports to come in ?

    Again, I want to thank you for all your heads up the last couple of days, I really had appreciated it.

    Also, any truth to the report on msnbc that recuers had made contact with James on Tuesday ?

    Thank you,

    Very much hurting in San Fransciso,

  42. Hi Kim,

    During the fog of the news period…a lot was speculated by newscasters and I think we all wanted to think the best. On MSNBC they reported that searchers had direct contact with James hours before they found him. That may relate to a story about a hot spot being recorded on a FLIR copter run on a previous night. The searchers explored the hotspot area and found several items from James left in a pattern to indicate where we was heading.

    They also reported seeing a flash of some sort a short time before they found him…that fuels speculation that he was signaling.

    So who knows…once I heard the recording from a news reporter in the copter above the recovery site I knew he was gone – the reporter stated James was face down in the water. It was hard to hear his words exactly, I had to listen several times before I pieced it together.

    We all wanted a different outcome and so many were cheering for James. The Kim family is fortunate to have people like that spend their time and resources to help. Joe did a great job summarizing what was going on and he also provided what I thought was good advice on where to look for James.

    And I too…wanted to believe the “alive” headline but it wasn’t so…similar to the immediate news flow when the miners perished…

  43. Glenn I agree that it was a misunderstanding by the MSNBC reporter and NOT that they really found him alive, though we’ll know more from the autopsy today. Obviously if he was alive after the search began on Monday there will be even more pain for the search teams and questions about the rescue efforts.

    I don’t think it’s appropriate right now to speculate too much about how search and rescue approached this but I’d have to say, based on the fact that a local pilot found the car after over a week of organized search efforts, that SAR in general does not appear to quickly incorporate the wealth of local knowledge and pool of volunteers that is available in cases like this. I’m assuming this is because in past cases and in studies of SAR theory the volunteers and local info get in the way of the rescue more than help with it.

  44. Kim I cannot apologize enough for that horrible mistake and I didn’t realize until now that that was even read before I corrected it a few minutes later. But that’s no excuse – I should never have tried to post so fast on something this important to so many people. Like everybody I was hoping so much he was alive and when I first heard he’d been found I think it did not even occur to me he might not have made it. Complicating things was that I could not verify the first info I saw from Oregonlive (The Oregonian Newspaper’s website) anywhere else. I tried to fix that post within minutes but a huge number of people were reading at that time. Really, really sorry to put you throught that.

  45. Joe, I want to join a lot of other people and thank you for keeping all of us out here updated so quickly on the events of the past several days. Having your updates helped those of us so far away feel like we were there pulling for him. I am devastated that James didn’t make it, I can’t imagine what his family is going through. They remain in my thoughts and prayers. James will remain a hero in my heart and the hearts of others. Thank you again so much!

  46. Bottom line…if I had a family member missing I would employ any and all resources that I had at my disposal to find them…I give the Kim’s a lot of credit. It is my understanding in cases like this typically law enforcements tells the family to sit and wait we have it under control.

    I give the JC Sheriff credit for allowing the Kim’s to utilize their resources to bring in outside professional help. I think it is important to note that many Chopper jocks have vast experience in all kinds of situations and probably more years on the job then the current pilots at SAR’s disposal. Again I want to make it clear I am not trying to slight SAR here…just that their are some very experienced CIV people and resources that should be tapped more often then they are.

    After all the end game is life or death.

  47. Glenn – yes, but ironic is that the local reports and an interview with the pilot who found them state that he was acting on his own. He was not part of official Search and Rescue and he was not part of the paid search efforts.

    I agree on not knocking a valiant SAR effort here. However from a theoretical point of view I’m wondering if you could use some form of online information organization (maybe just a forum) to informally analyze a lot more information than otherwise. This case was unusual in that millions were watching and I’m guessing at least a thousand people would have volunteered to analyze data (such as the Satellite mapping info). In other cases the interest level might not make this approach worthwhile though I think there is room here for an online environment that would process the “wisdom of the crowd”, especially local insight such as that of the chopper pilot who found them.

  48. As Dan says, the coordinates of the car reported earlier (Tuesday, Wednesday) were the wrong coordinates. The coordinates that Joe posted on Thursday morning are the correct ones. Video footage shows that the car was parked at an intersection, which matches the latest coordinates [that put the car at an intersection].

    One of the roads at that intersection is the access road to Black Bar Lodge. As fate would have it, James took the wrong road (and then made the fatal decision to hike down the canyon). Had he taken the access road to the Black Bar Lodge, he would have come across Black Bar Lodge within 1.75 miles (a walk of a mere 40 minutes), could have broken a window and would have found shelter for his family.

    Google Earth shows that James Kim walked on the road for 4 miles (contradicting previously reported “2 miles” and “3 miles”) and the hike in the canyon was a 6 mile hike, for a total of 10 miles, not merely “8 miles” as reported in the media.

  49. I assume Bear Creek road was completely covered with snow? Does anyone know how far they made it over snow-covered roads before getting stuck?

  50. I am sharing similar thoughts with you Joe. Being a chiphead myself I feel compelled to try something. Maybe we can create KimSAT – Search Area Tatics engine that compiles the insight and efforts of the many to save one.

    I was really glad to hear Edge stepped up…so critical that kind of data.

    I didn’t know that about the pilot but just confirms my beliefs even more. I think there should always be a strong private sector response to these situations.

    It still baffles me why they didn’t search from both ends…including teams from either side of where he entered the ravine.

    Interesting comments from Greg…thanks for the analysis.

  51. Fred I heard it was like 15 miles…they came to a fork in the road. One sign said deep snow ahead so they choose the other router (to the right I believe) and then got stuck and was actually able to get the car unstuck and turn around but decided to wait it out because they were low on gas.

  52. Here’s what the helicopter pilot said:

    “When I heard the family was lost, immediately I had a pretty good idea where they were,” Rachor, a helicopter pilot for 10 years, said Wednesday. “It’s real easy to take a wrong turn where they did. A lot of people make that mistake.'”


    It even looks like the ‘correct’ way to go from above in Google Maps. If there are any signs at this fork, they should clearly state that the BLM is not a detour. Even a ‘no outlet’ sign on BLM would do.

    And a simple sign at the intersection the car was found at saying ‘Black Bar Lodge ->’ would help.

  53. to add: Google Maps, in its directions from Merlin to Gold Beach, makes a point to note ‘Continue on NF-23 – go 24.3 mi’ at this fork.

  54. I hope I am not posting this twice by accident…but, I think the marketing and advertising of vehicles with AWD and 4WD needs to be addressed in this country.

    The advertisements usually show these cars and SUV’s out in some pretty rough conditions, many times going fast with a little tiny disclaimer that the bottom that reads “professional driver.” That disclaimer doesn’t cut it. People buy these vehicles—and I drive a Subaru Outback, btw–with a very, very false sense of security of that type of traction.

    I wonder if the Kims would have started up that road–or turned around faster if they were in a regular front wheel drive station wagon? Of course there is no way of knowing this–

    I think there needs to be a whole like of critiscism in the press—for the DOT for NOT closing that road off of I-5 the second it is SUPPOSED to snow—or put up guardrails and maintain the heck out of it, including regular patrols-

    For the car manufacturs that insist on false advertising of their vehicles-

    And for mapping companies that fail to mark roads that are potentially dangerous.

    The Kims did NOT do one thing here that regular other folks wouldn’t have done–as far as I am concerned, that family should get a medal for keeping those children not just alive but, healthy–

    But, we need to correct some serious mistakes–starting with the ones above, imo.

  55. A question for those in the know. All the reports keep saying “Bear Camp Rd” as the “shortcut” they were trying to take. On Google Maps, the main road across is shown as NF-23, changing into NF-33 near Agness. Google maps also shows a “Bear Camp Rd” at 42.574858,-123.750129; which is where a BLM road forks off of NF-23.

    So is the Google Maps NF-23 the real Bear Camp Rd? And the Google Map indication of Bear Camp Rd incorrect?

    Certainly it was their intent to take the main road (shown in Google as NF-23) all the way across, right? And then at some point and for some reason they ended up on the network of BLM roads where the car was found?

    I can’t believe they were that close to that lodge. Heart-breaking.

    So many questions. From that intersection they had 3 directions to walk on a “road” (assuming the access road to the lodge even looked like a road). Why not try each direction for a few hours each day, and then back to the car? Would the weather have prevented that? Would the snow cover have prevented that?

    Thanks for the info and answers.

  56. Joe (and everyone else who has participated here in one form or another),

    I just wanted to take a moment to offer my sincere thanks for what you’ve done here. Your concern, insight, and respect were very helpful and much appreciated (by many more than just myself). Quite fitting for a man as kind and loving as James.

    Thank you.

  57. Google Maps/Google Earth appears to be in error with the name. Bear Camp Road is the common name for FS23 from Agness to Galice – the spur at the coordinates you mentioned may be a detour around a landslide that happened in 2005. Either way, there is a LOT of incorrect road data on all of the online map services in Southern Oregon.

  58. Seeing where he ended up and the fact that the car was literally next to the road leading to the lodge, wow. This really goes a long way towards the importance of signage, especially in dangerous areas such as this. James and Kati had no way of knowing they were only a short hike up that road to the lodge, and potential refuge, and that is the real tragedy in my eyes. Certainly, I am not trying to place the onus to the owners of the lodge.

    My heart truly goes out to Kati, Penelope and Sabine, as well as their family, friends and coworkers. Times such as this are when you find out what people are willing to do for loved ones. James was not only one of the best in his field of work, he was apparantly also the best as a father and husband for such an act of bravery and selflessness.

    People will likely say in the days ahead, as they already have, that he made mistakes, but I say that he made the best use of the knowledge he had on hand. Not everyone has grown up near mountainous areas and had the experience necessary to make the “appropriate” decisions in the face of such a situation. James was a true hero in every way.


  59. The images in Google Maps can be quite old (the one of my house is from 2000) so it’s quite likely the N23/BLM fork looks quite different now. I wonder if that satellite company will release their images anyway?

    Perhaps j&w can add the Google Earth image of this location to his set of pics?


  60. Jeff, I don’t think anyone who is familiar with the area will ever criticize the decisions. Some of the decisions are a bit baffling, but we weren’t there.

    I agree that signage would have solved this, but these are very minor roads. Bear Camp Rd has some limited signage, but the unpaved side roads are logging roads and will have no signs. The BLM and Forest service are the two biggest road builders in the world – the Forest Service has more miles of road than any other country in the world has total! The roads weren’t built with public use in mind – they were built solely to get logging trucks in and out of the logging areas. It’s an unfortunate side effect that people so easily get lost.

  61. I can’t help thinking that incompetence in the leadership and coordination of the rescue effort was a contributing reason for its tragic outcome.

    I am wondering, for instance, why didn’t they scour the maize of back roads with a fleet of snowmobiles last week when there was a good snow base on the roads? could have covered a huge area, fast, effectively, and relatively inexpensively.

    Isn’t it ironic that with all the great technology available now, most of us who wanted to know were miles off pinpointing the location of the stuck car and the spot where James left the road.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    I can’t find the words that adequately express the admiration and love I feel for James – an incredible human being who died truly heroically.

  62. Incompetence was NOT an issue, you can point the blame at lack of resources maybe, Josephine County is one of the poorest counties in the country but the search effort was as focussed as possible and the people participating were the best to do the job.

    Realize, that until Monday, no one knew they were up Bear Camp, the common thought was that they were much farther north.

  63. Tim – thanks for that nice comment. Like everybody I really got emotionally wrapped up in this story both because it was unfolding in territory I knew and with a family that reminded me of … my own. It’s really been nice to see how caring everybody has been. It didn’t have a storybook ending but if those kids had died up there it would have been almost unbearable.

    RodneyG – [updated – see comment below] I’m looking at Google maps now and I don’t think they are wrong on the technical coordinates which show the route as a BLM Road, then NF 23 (I think US Forest Service Road), then NF 33. Note that for TuTuTun Lodge on the River I think you’d normally turn off of NF33 at Lobster Creek Bridge over the Rogue and hit North Bank Road rather than go into Gold Beach. Locally it’s common to say “Bear Camp” in general reference to that particular route from Merlin to Galice to Agness to Gold Beach. The route involves several differently named roads and some that I think have more than one name. Galice Road, turnoff just before Galice Resort to the stretch over to Agness, then down to Gold Beach.

    I think it’s Oregon Live that is suggesting they intentionally turned off the Bear Camp Road onto a logging road and then kept going for some 15 miles. Perhaps they were trying to find the river, not knowing that in that Wild Section of the Rogue there is no Road along the Rogue as there is both from Merlin to Galice and down at TuTuTun where there are roads on both banks of the Rogue for many miles.

  64. Wow, I did not understand what RodneyG’s meant until I looked here:

    [At first I wrongly thought this was not a clearly confusing item but it is and is listed as Bear Camp Road. Although the Kim’s are not thought to have used Google or online mapping (they used a state printed map according to police interview with Kati), Kati did tell police they were confused about the route. I don’t know the signage at this area here but would sure like to see it.

  65. If you look at page 6 of the layoutscene site you can start to see why James may have left the road…looks like he was trying to make a straight line to save time.

  66. Joe, if you zoom way in on the map view, you see that the fork is labeled Bear Camp, and then a little tiny piece back to NF-23 is also labeled Bear Camp. A commenter after me suggested that perhaps this is a little detour around a landslide from last year. That seems to make a lot of sense. As in, NF-23/Bear Camp got blocked just north of the fork, so maybe the new traffic pattern was to actually take the BLM road for a tiny way, then jog back over to the main road.

    Anyway, regardless, everything I’m reading suggests this is where they left NF-23 and then travelled the “15 miles” on BLM roads. (Another route from NF-23 to the spot of the car is at 42.614507,-123.808794, which is much closer to where the car was found. But I don’t think it is as likely.)

    The interview with the pilot makes it sound like it is very common for travellers to take the BLM at the original fork we are talking about. The satellite image clearly shows that the BLM road looks wider, and as the pilot said, it looks more like the correct road than the correct road does. It looks like it would be *very* easy to follow that BLM road at that fork.

    Finally, from all I’ve read, I’m not sure if they took the fork to the BLM road by accident, or if it was on purpose. Regardless, the pilot interview makes it sound like much of the searching was going on elsewhere, but he was pretty sure they would be up there between NF-23 and the river.

    Thanks again to everyone for all the info.

  67. RodneyG – excellent info, thanks. I just listened to the Oregonlive.com video http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/video/index.ssf?LC_51MISN107

    which suggested they intentionally left “Bear Camp Road” to go below snow line but I got the idea the reporter may not have had all the facts. He wrongly reports that most maps say the Bear Camp route is impassable in winter. I’m not sure any but a few newer maps note this fact, partly because the main road is used by some locals all winter, mostly to go hunting in that area.

  68. Thanks Joe Dully – that really helps people get a feel for the territory up there. But is this where you turn off Galice Road and head up to Bear Camp Road by turning LEFT, or is it ON NF23 aka Bear Camp Road?

  69. A news conference is going on right now regarding results of Autopsy and other search details:

    James Kim died of exposure / hypothermia. No other signs of injury. Appears he was found fully clothed, face up in a shallow water stretch of Big Windy Creek. Time of death is not known.

    Police interviews with Kati suggested the following:
    They used a fairly new Oregon State map to plan the route.
    They did NOT use online services or GPS to plan the route. They intended to take 42 but missed it and then chose the Merlin to Gold Beach route [there is an exit at I-5 at Merlin and I assume they took that one].
    Police say there was a warning “box?” on the map about this route.
    They travelled west on Bear Camp Road, were confused about correct route, and tried to backtrack. Not clear when they got off on the wrong road. [though I think the accounts above suggest it was an easy mistake to make so this needs follow up] Snow and rain made visibility bad.
    2am Sunday they stopped car at fork in road. Monday snowed all day.

    On Saturday Dec 2 James set out in the morning. They had reviewed maps in car and he thought Galice was 4 miles away (it was in fact about 15 miles away). He also appeared to think he could follow “the river” to Galice. The Rogue River does go to Galice but it’s not clear if they knew where they were in relation to the Rogue. This may explain why he dropped down into Windy Creek.
    [Police report seemed to indicate the search helicopters found Kati Kim, leaving the local man out of the picture. I still believe the local pilot’s account cited above, which nobody has challenged but seems only quoted on local news.]

  70. Glenn I like that KimSat idea. In simplest form it would just be a threaded forum where those directly involved would post the solid data and known information online quickly. Remote helpers could then organize that data and have threaded discussions for speculation. During this SAR implied that that the number of calls as the case heated up was keeping them from the search but with a threaded forum you’d have people who could not help in other ways answering questions as they followed the story and collected relevant information, rejecting bogus tips (like the story that the family was seen in Gold Beach last week), etc. Police could then focus on the rescue itself.

  71. Joe,
    I believe that in a video interview, the local pilot, Rachor, mentioned that he spotted the tracks in snow on road. This led to another chopper responding to the area and finding the family and car. At that time, Kati, perhaps hearing the activity overhead, had left the car for some distance with the girls, waving the yellow umbrella with taped “S-O-S”.

  72. A few other details from today…

    …San Jose Mercury News reported [Kim] may have been dead only hours, and no more than one day, by the time his body was discovered, according to deputy Grant Forman, who was a member of the Jackson County’s SWAT team who rappelled from a helicopter to recover the body.

    Forman told the newspaper that it appeared that [Kim] slipped and fell on the slippery, mossy creek rocks.

    From various reports: T.O.D. from autopsy either “had not” or “could not” be determined. Medical examiner not available to clarify.

    [SAR] found an S-O-S note that said James’ family was desperate for help.

    There was no food left in car when James left early Sat. morn.

  73. Allen that would correspond with the hotspot sighting from an earlier flir mission. From what I understand when they investigated the hotspot location that is where they found multiple items left from James. He probably huddled at night at soon as daybreak he continued on his quest.

  74. Joe…I am more than happy to participate in an effort regarding KimSAT…let’s do it! If we can make a difference for someone in the future then Jame’s quest will be continuing he will just be helping others.

  75. Thanks Allen. It seemed at the news briefing today that the question of when he died was dealt with very superficially and I almost got the impression the coroner may have left this estimate off on purpose?
    Here’s the report you quoted: http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/16187541.htm
    The slipping theory seems somewhat inconsistent with no injuries to the body but consistent with lying face up in the water as I think they said he was when found. At first they said face down.
    Tragic, and I’m sorry to sound so clinical here…

  76. Glenn – sounds neat. I’m away for the next few days but after that let’s start brainstorming how that would work. Here’s my contact info:
    Joe Hunkins
    POB 141
    Talent, Oregon 97540
    541-324-4800 (cell)

  77. Hi Joe,

    Yeah I think we will all be surprised when we find out when he died – the cold water and conditions are going to make that determination difficult in best conditions.

    However given his body in the near state of constant shock I don’t think it would take very much trauma to get the body to just shut off. The shock of the cold water might have been enough to cause him to pass out or ultimately lead to heart failure.

    Who knows…but it is said any way you slice it.

  78. Joe, I noticed that too… the private citizen flying the private helicopter who discovered James’ footprints in the snow leading him to find Kati and the children was not given ANY recognition / appreciation at this afternoon’s press conference.

    He deserves huge gratitude.

  79. Kip,
    agreed, and every single hour counted, as Kati and the kids (the 4 year old walking and the baby being carried, presumably) were walking away from the car as they were spotted. A day or even just half a day later they also would have succumbed to hypothermia.
    Having children myself, I find this thought unbearable and also think that the local helicopter pilot should be officially honored for saving the lives of three people.

  80. Anybody see a fork in the road where the Kims parked their car? It was mentioned at today’s news conference. Could it be a road leading down to Black Bar Lodge that may show on updated aerials but not on the older Google Earth images?

  81. Kip, yes, please read my post #62 (or approximately #62).
    And use these Google Earth coordinates that Joe posted (probably initially posted by Dan):

    This is one of the things that makes his death so heartbreakingly sad and unnecessary – they were 1.75 miles from the [closed for the season] Black Bar Lodge.
    Their car was parked right where the access road to the Black Bar Lodge forks off a BLM road.

  82. Kip I suggest you look at the link above for layoutscene. It will answer your question…on page5 or 6…that really gives you a good perspective on what he went through.

  83. Another private citizen deserving huge praise and appreciation is the Edge Wireless engineer who found the Kim cell phone ping.

    “It was just a hunch that we could help. And we followed up on the hunch,” said Eric Fuqua, 39, an engineer for Edge Wireless LLC who contacted authorities to offer his services in the search.

    http://tinyurl.com/yncory (for CBS news article)

  84. Ive got to say this: I am really frustrated that they werent found earlier. I am a 30 yr. old mom, aggie grad. Absolutely UNTRAINED in any search and rescue skills. When all this started I posted (along with numerous others)that I felt like they wouldnt take 42 but instead would take NF-23 (which on a map looks more direct) and when I followed the road by google earth I kept ending up on The exact road on which they were found NO MATTER HOW HARD I TRIED TO FOLLOW NF-23. Then when they found the girls I looked at google earth and follow a route I felt like I would have gone. I ended at Black bar falls (out of the drainage area). I posted a question about how far that was. (thinking they should start there and go UP twindy creek) I realize Im stating everything all the others were probably thinking, my point is IF I CAN FIGURE THIS OUT WHY DIDNT THEY???
    And as far as the SAR teams- I appreciate EVERYTHING they did but it wasnt them that found the girls or James.
    I second the the praise to the pilots that found them.

  85. Kip and Glenn,
    I think that the whole search effort deserves recognition. All members devoted their best to the search, rescue, then recovery. The process started with the two Edge Wireless individuals who used the Merlin cell tower pings to target the correct Bear Camp Road vicinity. Before this discovery, the potential search area was huge, also including the more obvious Hwy. 42 route. Then, the local heli pilot who spotted James’ tracks in the snow. (He had been doing his own fly-overs for 2 days.) The Kim family chopper crew who rescued the family… on through everyone else who desperately worked from Monday afternoon until mid-day Thursday in very extreme conditions to try and save the whole family. The deputy sheriff who fell 100′ over an embankment with his ATV on Tuesday was fortunate to only have an injured shoulder.

  86. http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061207/NATION/612070467/1020

    The time of death could not be determined, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police. However, one of the SWAT team members on the scene told the Mercury News that it appeared from the condition of the body that Kim had not been dead long — perhaps hours, no more than a day.

    Deputy Grant Forman, a member of Jackson County’s SWAT team, rappelled from a helicopter to help recover the body Wednesday afternoon, said it looked like Kim might have slipped and fallen on slippery, mossy rocks in the creek where his body was found.

    He was found face-up in water no more than three feet deep. The creek was about 20 feet wide, with a sheer rock cliff on one side and huge boulders and a steep hillside on the other; Kim was nestled among rocks in the creek, Forman said. Even though he had left a trail of clothing for rescuers to follow, Kim was still wearing several layers of clothing, including his brown jacket, gray sweater, jeans and tennis shoes.

    “He was walking the creek when he slipped and fell,” Foreman said. If not for that fall, “he may have made it out.”

  87. I wish someone from SW Oregon would take pictures of the signs posted at the start of NF-23. The state says there are 3 clear warning signs. Kati Kim said it was “confusing”. What is it?

  88. Thanks Joe, been reading for a few days. I think this story has hit home with a lot of people, and its not the usual stuff we read in the news, its something we can relate to and I took it personally that James didn’t make it. I’m sure SAR did their best. But when your sitting across the country, or in another country it is so frustrating to feel helpless. Perhaps there is a way that the internet and map analysts can help. I myself am a gis professional and maybe that is why this story and site has gripped me. I can only hope good things are to come.

  89. The truth is the entire search and rescue operation was a dismal failure. With the exception of the private heli pilot flying on his own nickel who discovered James’ footprints in the snow, and the Edge Wireless engineer who discovered the Kim cellphone ping. Interestingly these 2 individuals have received almost no recognition and appreciation from the government press conference bureaucrats now familiar to many of us. They talk facelessly of ‘a helicopter found’ or ‘the cell phone ping discovery’.

    Joeduck. He’s bin right on all along. Published his thoughts on the Web where Kims were likely located and he was correct. James could have been saved had “they” acted on the information Joe publicized.

    Big kudos to joeduck.

    Lastly James… in his trek from the car leaving those lifesaving footprints that led the chopper pilot back to Kati and the 2 children….. way to go James! Truly a hero.

  90. Thoughts and prayers for James and the family.

    Yes, I was very surprised as well to read that it was a private pilot who on his decided to look for the family and spotted Kati and the kids. Here is a SF Chronicle article that needs more visibility.


    Also, I went over the maps and terrain over the last several days. The fact that they were exactly at the junction where the road leads to Black Bar Lodge just makes the whole situation so much harder to accept. But on a practical note, that also indicates that there was clearly no road SIGNS there pointing to the lodge or even the river. (Say as a fire escape route – like the signs/icons for coastal access, nuclear escape routes etc. that you see at other places).

    View this to appreciate the maze –
    Try navigating that without signs even on a sunny day!

    Hopefully, this saga will bring to light that the builders of these Logging Roads (built suprisingly by public funds in most cases) – that are a maze and a veritable hazard for everyone except the loggers harvesting our national forests – need to get serious about putting up appropriate and adequate signage (if nothing else).

    If you read the pilot Rachor’s comments and view the maps, you will see how easy it is to get off on Bear Camp Road from NF-23 and enter the maze.

    “It’s real easy to take a wrong turn where they did. A lot of people make that mistake.” ~ John Rachor, Helicopter Pilot.

    Also, about the oft-repeated statement by the media and others about NF-23 being a bad choice etc., I was surprised when I looked up the Rand McNally atlas (whose maps I have admired and used extensively in my travels to over 30 states) and it shows NF-23 as a scenic route with the green dots. And with no winter warnings etc.

    Of course, in the end, we have to take responsibility to make informed choices and develop/use our judgement to deal with the consequences as best as we can (which the Kims certainly did).

    Clearly, there is an opportunity to make some improvements – including perhaps a web based, coordinated collection and evaluation of tips/ideas in these missing person cases – as we all have witnessed, sometimes devoted, impassioned amateurs can have insights that professionals may miss.

    To that end, Joe Duck, deserves kudos for providing this service. Thanks Joe.

    P.S. Keep getting connection refused error on clicking submit – guess this page is getting a lot of hits. If this get’s posted more than once, please delete the duplicates. Thanks.

  91. dc – I’ve seen various pix of the warning signs but it would be nice to have pix matched to the map and a picture of the road junction where they left NF23 and headed down into Windy Creek Area.

  92. Update: Two local news stations are confirming that it was a private pilot [I think his name is John Rachor and he lives in that area] who located Kati and Kids. I’m not clear why national news seems to be misreporting this interesting fact.

  93. Joe and I are going to embark on a new journey to try to make something useful out of this tragedy. We are going to brainstorm how all of the resources, people and technology could be used to provide better input to a SAR operation. The process will need to be thorough and provide a streamlined but detailed information stream to the command center of the SAR.

    In addition it should look to tap private citizens to help with their part. If anyone is interested in participating with us…just shout and drop us an email or leave your email and we will contact you.

    We will begin probably early next week on formulating this.

  94. BTW…one suggestion I saw on a thread…someone mentioned why don’t they use sky writing to send messages to the people stranded?…anybody have any thoughts on this?

  95. Kip writes:
    >the truth is the entire search and rescue operation
    >was a dismal failure.

    I agree. And this statement also is true for the “finding James Kim in the Big Windy Creek canyon” operation.

    IMHO, once it was clear that James was heading down the Big Windy Creek canyon, the authorities in charge should have inserted several teams *along* Big Windy Creek canyon.

    If a SWAT deputy can rappel down to *recover* the body, certainly small (3 person?) teams can rappel down to *rescue* a still-alive James.

    How about one team coming from the Black Bar Lodge (no need to rappel, a Helicopter can land there) into the canyon EXIT, one team from the canyon ENTRANCE (no need to rappel either, a road goes there – this was the only insertion point actually used), and two teams being inserted mid-canyon, one team heading upstream and one team heading downstream?

    This way (the length of the canyon being 6.5 miles), each of the 4 teams would have had to search only 1.6 miles of canyon, probably doable in a single day (day as in daylight).

    Truth is, the authorities bungled it and they know it.

  96. Well, sky writing might be a little too complicated. Why not use one of the signs the tow behing them? I’ve heard a lot of good ideas.

    I really like the idea taking high resolution pictures and putting these pictures on the web so people can look from home. These are even more effective than a satellite picture. I remember seeing something about a company in the Bay Area that specializes in these type of photographs from planes (maybe in San Mateo or Palo Alto?). The SF Chronicle did a story on the company during the protests against the war and the Chronicle hired them so they could count how many protesters were really there.

  97. Many of the people involved in the SAR were volunteers – and I’m sure most of them feel like crap right now. No need to add insult to injury by calling them incompetent. I think it’s good to bear in mind the reality of the situation, the inaccessible terrain, the lack of cell-phone service. A million things could have been done better. If they listened to the advice of every well-intentioned person, they’d be sidetracked further. SF chronicle did post a story about the private helicopter pilot. He did not, however, have the means to lift the Kims out. At that point the other helis came in. The entire undertaking was a group effort, and I think it’s in poor taste to discredit the hard work of the SAR volunteers. Just as they have said that the Kims did their best given the circumstances, so too should we give credit where credit is due to the hard work of the people in Oregon. They worked their butts off.

  98. kh, nobody is denying that they worked their butts off.
    But they probably worked their butts off in an inefficient way.

    Look, his body was found from 1/2 a mile upstream from the canyon exit – if they had sent a team UP the canyon, not just DOWN the canyon, they would have found him (dead or alive) much earlier.
    As far as I understand, the team that *did* find him was going DOWN the canyon, as every team was, and that’s the big bungle here.

  99. Of note regarding cell coverage. When I was up there last Monday I checked many times going up 23 and had OK coverage to just blow the BC cutt off… I did not check it from the cutoff north up 34-8-36 but I suspect it would have been spotty (but would have worked). I talked to some guys on a skidder at about NF-2411 and they also had coverage.

  100. They attempted to send people up the Big Windy Creek Canyon – it was too steep. James was found at a point where there was very little he could have done to have proceeded down farther.

    Some of us are seriously underestimating this terrain. When they say that James was superhuman to reach the point he did, they aren’t exaggerating. The Big Windy creek runs down a very narrow and steep walled canyon – according to SAR personnel, it rarely has a bank to walk down meaning the slopes which are 100% grade or steeper (45+ degrees) are the only place to walk. The slopes of the canyon are too steep in many cases to climb up. This isn’t mentioning the underbrush, boulders and down trees. I’ll reiterate something I said earlier, if it’s too steep to have had timber cut, (and there is a large area with no cut trees) it is probably too steep for people to traverse safely.

    SAR is something that fails more often than not. It is the nature of the business. These sorts of incidents, as Joe & Glenn are trying to do, are where improvements are made.

  101. Joe Dully.. The cell coverage is going to differ based on carrier. James had GSM service (I don’t know what carrier) to be roaming the Edge Wireless network. I know from my experience that US Cellular (my old employer) had some decent coverage up there – nothing super, but I’ve made calls from Bear Camp.

    This is a rant of mine. The FCC is mandating that analog cell service be phased out by 2008. Most carriers who have analog service have started turning down their analog (AMPS) networks anyway and very few phones support AMPS anymore. This is a problem in areas like this because the AMPS signal is much more effective at reaching remote areas like this. It’s of no use for GPS or data transfer, but if someone needs to make a call, it worked. There are many remote areas where currently available analog cell service could save people’s lives but won’t be available after 2008. Oh well, not a rant that I’m going to win.

  102. Thanks Spencer… I did not know this. I am on US Cellular. I thought that any phone would just roll over to the next carrier. I used to carry an old analog back-up bag phone because it had better coverage that my flip phone but I guess that is not going to work in the future. I guess the best phone to have will depend on location.

  103. Auri I just approved your comment and sorry for the delay – I think it was long enough it invoked a “moderate comment”. It’s now above.

  104. Joe I sent an email to Mapper…will coordinate with you in a few days…sent you an email. If you didn’t get it let me know…

  105. Thanks Jason – that is an amazing interview with John Rachor, the local pilot acting on his own who found Kati and Kids. He notes that 1) James’ footprints really did lead him to the car and 2) The side road is actually bigger than the main Bear Camp route at the point they left it, the side road has a gate but it was open, and indicating taking that turnoff is a common mistake.

    Thx Glenn – I will get back with you next week and feel free to move ahead on this with Mapper. I think a “robust” hosting environment will be needed for the project if lives depend on uptime. Also, I’m wondering how Amber Alerts and other missing person data is currently handled. One area where I was very underwhelmed were the websites for the agencies. They posted information infrequently and insufficiently. I know from some of my own past projects that ‘turf’ issues often get in the way of expediting things and I think online environments can help fix that.

  106. While SF Chronicle deserves credit for it’s coverage and for posting the story about John Rachor (the helicopter pilot) who spotted the family, I am also amazed at how erroneous their maps are (and not in a minor way either). I won’t elaborate on the other inconsistencies in the reporting – of even simple, established facts of the situation – by various media outlets.

    When we keep talking about being well informed, it does not bode well when mega-organizations in the business of providing information, think nothing of disseminating unreliable, inaccurate or inconsistent information.

    See the lower map here –

    The marker for Family Found next to the Bear Camp Viewpoint is on NF-23 – very far from where they actually got stranded & found. In fact it contradicts their own map below (!) – which has another problem of it’s own.


    Watch the yellow lines continuing almost straight from where James left the road to NF-23 – makes it seem as if he could have simply gone straight for a short distance and found the main road.

    They lost (or chose to ignore) the opportunity to highlight the maze that WAS THE REASON for the family to get confused and trapped in that area. See here:

    As some others have commented above, yes, hard work deserves appreciation – but, in my opinion, the “Work smart – then work hard” motto needs to be embraced and applied a bit more perhaps.

    And finally, here is a photo of the pilot who deserves rich praise – http://tinyurl.com/yemtbb

  107. Helicopters make a lot of noise and get people’s attention. I feel they should have landed a helicopter somewhere where they could safely, and then camped out there by the parked helicopter.

    Had James saw the copter landing, he probably would have moved towards it.

  108. Just sent you and mapper my first email on the topic…please add your two cents and send around. We will start to organize this. I have some insight on the amber alert, etc…and have some contacts in the right places that might be able to help us. I will reach out to them starting tomorrow.

  109. As I turned 36 tonight and my two daughters sat next to me at dinner, one almost 4 and the other just over two, I couldn’t help but get choked up knowing that James’ daughters will never have the joy of singing Happy Birthday to their Daddy. I can only imagine the sorrow that the family is feeling and offer the deepest condolences from my family to theirs.

    The situation that James and Kati as parents of two young children found themselves in must have been horrifying and had obviously reached moments of complete desperation. I know as a parent, keeping our children entertained for even two hours in a car can seem like a complete nightmare. I honestly can’t imaging being stuck out there with no food, water, or fuel, with my family for that period of time.

    I think any parent can relate to the idea that they would do anything for their children. I think if you asked any parent, “Would you walk in front of a train to save your child?”, it would be rare to have someone take more than a second or two to answer. This story has definitely struck a nerve with me because of similarities between James and myself.

    I’ve read some criticism of the searchers not getting to the family and obviously James fast enough. I’ve found myself questioning the intelligence of these parents for risking their daughter’s lives by heading into mountain roads without any preparation. I’ve questioned what would the outcome have been if James had stayed put and not done what he thought would save his family. I’ve come to the conclusion that like most tragedies, there are normally a series of mistakes that lead to the final outcome. To spend time blaming the Kims, the searchers, the media, it’s a waste of time.

    What we should all focus on is the fact that here are two young girls who sit tonight wondering where their Daddy is. Two princesses who will never have the pleasure of singing Happy Birthday to their to Daddy or their Daddy kissing them goodnight. Tonight, hug the people you love folks, kiss your children and pets, have an extra scoop of ice cream, live like it’s your last day – everyday.

    Nite all.

    P.S. Great job JoeDuck!!!

  110. It’s always easy to try to assing blame after the fact, I agree.

    At the same time they (search and rescue) should learn from the things that went wrong.

    I feel like once they knew that James was down there, instead of just retreating for the night they should have set up several camps down there and been very visible with lights, even noise and what not. James would have moved towards them.

    Same idea with landing a helicopter.

    Instead, they buzzed around and then left when it got dark. I can’t imagine the desperation and frustration James must have felt witnessing that happening and then having to endure silent cold nights out there alone.

    Yes, I feel frustrated that my ideas seem so simple and seem to really make sense to me but it’s too late now.

  111. Tristan,

    I think everything thinks more could have been done. But we weren’t there. Also the creek was moving pretty swiftly and it if were making a lot of noise James may have never even heard the helicopters. Who knows…

    I think the survival packs should have dropped a multiple locations along that valley though…should have been done Monday night.

  112. Tristan – SAR will learn from the situation. There is a reason a lot of SAR guys take this so personally – many have friends and family who have been lost outdoors and needed help from SAR. Many are volunteers. There were also experts brought in from all over the state.

    The first image is what the Big Windy Canyon would look like once you’re in it.. obviously its a GE picture but you get the idea of the narrow canyon and the inaccessibility. The second picture clearly shows how densely wooded and how much of a torrent the stream was. There is nowhere to land a helicopter. The only place to land a chopper down there is at Black Bar lodge and maybe on the road well above. There was talk about camping rescuers at Black Bar lodge, but realize, that would have been well out of sight of James. The problem with putting people at Black Bar lodge was that the SAR people couldn’t get up the canyon to get to James.

  113. Joe,

    Appreciated your website coverage during this sad story. Thank you.

    The Saturday Mr. Kim took off on foot, I was reading CNET MP3 reviews and watched a video review by Mr. Kim. First time I’d heard of him. Was shocked when I realized later that weekend that the family missing in OR was his. Absolutely unimaginable turn of events. A SF family heading up to Seattle over Thanksgiving, so routine. In a million years he couldnt have imagined he would end up freezing to death in Oregon Mountains.

    The vandals who took the padlock off the gate that was supposed to have closed the BLM road entrance have a lot on their heads.

    Im sure the researchers gave it their all and lack sufficient info to judge their performance. That said, its perplexing they didnt insert multiple drop teams along the creek the Tuesday after the wife was found. It was only about a 10 mile length and he had to be down by the water. So really not that big an area for a massive search to cover.

    In a bizarre parallel, read the link below for a story about a similar situation just a few days before in Washington. Note the name of the road. And a less than stellar job by the rescue squad.


  114. Just a little reminder. The family put out a lot of $ for this effort. It feels good to give a little. It is easy to do with Paypal button on their front page.

    Business: Kim Family Fund
    Contact E-Mail: donations@jamesandkati.com

    I wish for the healing of all the heavy hearts over this outcome. Making a donation made my heart feel a little less heavy.

    I expect that the debriefing of this event with foster much valuable learning for all. It is to bad that it comes with the loss of one hell of a nice guy and father. He made a bad mistake taking 23 and he paid the ultimate price.

  115. Video on this site that shows Bear Camp Road and where the Kim’s car ended up. You can clearly see they were at an intersection and we now know mere minutes from a lodge.

    A few questions I’ve wondered about. Why didnt the family build a fire? Even if the wood was wet, they should have been able to get it burning with the burning tires.

    And when exactly did they burn the tires? Day or night? Which day? Would the weather have masked the smoke? Bad luck nobody saw the smoke. This family got burned by a series of terribly bad breaks. All of which had to go against them for it to end the way it did.

    Too damn bad as a techie that he didnt have a GPS in his car.

    We can only hope he heard all the helicopters and knew his family would have been rescued. I’m a dad of 1 and 2 year old boys and can relate. While its tragic James Kim died, I have no doubt he would and did sacrifice his life for his family and that the most important thing to him was that they lived. They did. At least there is that.

    Of all the stories written about this, the one below is one of the best.

  116. A few more notable points from various news reports:

    The Kims, not knowing their precise location, estimated from the rough map they had where they might be and concluded that Galice was on the river and was 4 miles away. James planned to travel downslope to get there if he couldn’t find a road with traffic. I am sure he was thinking he could possibly make it all the way to Galice on Saturday and get help for his family.

    They had stopped at an intersection with the idea of maximizing the chance of meeting another vehicle that could help them.

    Though 4 helicopters were involved in the search, the entire week they never sighted any helicopter, though they they heard a helicopter in the distance on 2 occasions.

    On Friday they burned 3 tires at once for the purpose of making a large column of black smoke that hopefully someone would notice. No one did.

    I am sure they couldn’t understand how they could be on a paved road for an entire week without a single vehicle in evidence. I am sure there is no such paved road in the San Francisco Bay area where that could occur.

    I emailed the family website last Sunday suggesting that the Kims most likely took NF-23 (Bear Camp Road) and suggested the search be concentrated there. I guess locals would assume they wouldn’t try that road but from here in California on various maps it appears to be about as good a road as 42 and seems a more direct route. Given that they never saw a helicopter until Monday, I wonder how much effort was put on that possibility.

  117. David

    I completley agree with you. Most travelers assume that if a road map shows that a road is paved, the road is okay to take — unless there is some kind of obvious note on the map. Also, most road maps dont give an indication of the type of terrain one will encounter. That kind of information generally makes road maps too busy and takes away from the purpose. I’m from the mid-west, it is hard to imagine getting stuck on a road that absolutley no one will travel down for a whole week. Its also so hard to imagine thngs going from okay, to bad, to worse, to no way out in matter of minutes or hours.

    Anyway, the article about the guy in Washington is just amazing. I can’t believe they wouldn’t look for him. I wish single people were treated as just as important as people with kids, at least I wish it would have made national news so that people would know that someone is missing.

    Thanks again Joe for this site.

  118. David – just a point of clarification – they left Bear Camp Rd and were about 15 miles down an unpaved road. I’ve heard conflicting explanations of how they ended up on the road they stopped on. I’ve heard some reports that they just went right where FS-23 went left (an easy mistake in the dark or in the snow) and reports that they had gone farther on Bear Camp road, turned around, and then took this road in an effort to get to an elevation below the snow. Either way, it’s a maze of roads up there. Even from the air, spotting a car on the road is very difficult thanks to the trees.

  119. I agree with Tristan. I’ve been thinking of this since they found James…SAR in situations like this should always set up a base camp at the last known location of the missing person, with a generator and a roving searchlight (like the movie premier/car dealership type things) going nonstop. They’re visible for many miles around and would signal to the lost person that help was there.

  120. kh 119 – I agree w/ you 100%. Joe thank you so much for your insights and generosity with providing us information and essentially a forum in which to keep as up-to-date as possible. I think it is admirable that you and others will be pursuing ways in which to increase efficiency of such horrific SAR missions.

  121. I realize they had gotten off on the side road. It was my impression that that side road was also paved, as it appeared that way on videos I have seen of the car. Also a ranger gave an interview who said taking that side road was a very easy mistake because it appears to be as good a road as Bear Camp – not a case of a fork where one road is obviously the lesser unpaved road.

  122. I’ve checked in on this site several times over the past week, and had been (silently) hoping for a better outcome. I’m moved to tears tonight not just by James’s efforts but by your own, Joeduck, and those of your friends here, and left pondering over the cruel irony that so many of us (around the world) were collectively “looking” for James as he looped in desperation, just below. I want to extend my sincere condolences to you; I know you were searching and hoping as much as anyone.

    Anyway, not sure how to say it. The world: small, and still, sometimes, too big.

  123. David – FS-23 is the only paved road in those mountains. There was a short detour because of a landslide in 2005. That may be a permanent detour, I’m not sure. I don’t remember well enough, but I believe this detour is where they ended up on the wrong road as the detour was a short stint on another road before cutting back to 23. Google Earth/Maps is consistent with this, showing a mysterious section of road that isn’t on the satellite photo. At any rate, that detour was paved, but we’re only talking 100 yards or so before the detour went back to 23. The obvious problem is that in snow or darkness, you won’t be able to see a difference between a dirt road and a paved road.

  124. Thanks for the clarification Spencer. At any rate, the speed at which one can go from civilization to the wilderness and utter desolation, is hard to grasp for city folk such as myself and presumably the Kims as well. That one could walk for days and not see another human being just doesn’t compute somehow.

  125. I wonder if this is the map the Kims were using.

    Click to access Oregon_State_Map_2005_front.pdf

    If you look at the area in question you see a “box” noting “this route closed in winter.” I can see them driving up a ways and consulting the map (they clearly were consulting a map).

    I can see a scenario taking place (please note, this is pure speculation):

    They missed the exit to 40, consulted the map, and saw Bear Creek Road. They took it. Got a ways up, and the weather god bad. They discussed whether to turn back or not. Kim, as navigator, brings up the “box” on the map and says that they should turn around. James says the snow isn’t that bad, they should keep going. Then they see an actual road sign that reads: “Closed in Winter”. And this makes them scared of what’s ahead and so they decide to turn around (unfortunately, maybe they would have been better off going ahead). Then, after they turn around, they accidentally take the spur road at the fork and end up on the logging roads.

    Annother interesting possibility. Was the actual road sign warning about closures in winter much farther West than the “box” on the map? This might explain why James only thought he was 4 miles from Galice. Look at the map. If one wandered North from the road at where that red box is one might think you’re just North of the box. Maybe he equated an actual road sign that had that warning with the warning on the map. Can anyone tell me if this is the case?

    Also notice they’re isn’t the detail on this map as there is on the maps linked to above. It would be tough to figure out where you are.

  126. Good find on the map, Jason. I reckon this is the map the Kims were using. The State Trooper said it was a DOT map. He also said the Kims had mistaken the Windy Creek for another creek. That other creek on this map, which runs between the ‘A’ and ‘l’ of Almeda, is Howard Creek. It runs about 2 miles east of Windy Creek.

    I’m unsure how mistaking one creek for the other explains James’ actions, if his intent was to head towards the road (N-23) and/or Galice. I would think the direction to travel would be upstream of the creek, south, towards N-23.

  127. An article in SFgate says that Kati said James intent, after studying the map, was to follow the river into Galice. That explains why he’d want to follow the creek downstream.

  128. I guess the comment about his super human efforts were not exaggerated. He covered a lot of rough terrain within two days.

  129. It’s pretty clear that they were hopelessly disoriented. The road turns in all directions and with the darkness & snow, they very likely didn’t realize that the road they took off of FS-23 was taking them away from Galice. The road the car ended up on took them 15 miles to the northwest – effectively paralleling FS-23 back towards Agness. He hiked 4-5 miles back down the spur road and saw the option to follow Big Windy Creek and assumed that Galice wouldn’t be far from him when he reached the bottom. If he had gotten to the river, he would have likely turned east and missed the lodge a mile to he west. He’d have been several days from Grave Creek – even rafters usually take a full day to go from Grave Creek 15 miles downstream to Black Bar where James would have reached the river.

  130. Not to be critical of the folks who were out there risking their lives to rescue Mr. Kim, but it is puzzling that the bottom area of the drainage was not more of a focus at the outset. I have read that it is standard procedure to focus completely on where the person was last known to be. But this was not a case were a disoriented person could have headed off in any direction. Between the early evidence he went in the drainage and the apparent fact that Mrs. Kim told them when she was rescued that Mr. Kim planned to head down to the river to find help, and the reasonable assumption that he was going to be going as fast as possible on his mission (given than there were small children back at the car depending on him for their survival), you just wish that part of the team had been deployed from the bottom. I read at some point they couldn’t get up the steep canyon at the base, but wouldn’t they realize Mr. Kim would also be blocked there. They could have inserted people by helicopter on the long rope, as was the case after he was finally spotted days later. I know it is easy to armchair quarterback, and it may have been to late at the outset anyway, but it is just so sad and it is hard not to wonder “what if.”

  131. Hi David,

    According to more details coming from the coroner it seems James was dead even before the family was rescued.

    James really must have had super human endurance to do what he did in such a short time.

  132. #157, exactly my thinking.

    James was following the Big Windy Creek downstream, plain and simple. He was *not* randomly wandering about the Big Windy Creek drainage area. Hence, the search becomes a one-dimensional search (where along the Big Windy Creek or possibly the Rogue river is he) as opposed to a two-dimensional search (where in an area of, say, 100 square miles is he).

    However, an interview with the coroner suggests that he already died on either Sunday or Monday.

    As Kati and the girls were only rescued at 1:45 on Monday, and only subsequently it could be established that James’ footprints were leading down into the Big Windy Creek canyon, the first helicopter insertion of SAR personnel into the canyon could have only been attempted on Tuesday, when James was, in all likelyhood, already deceased.

    Hence, I now think the half-ass (half as in “coming from one side only”) nature of the search operation did NOT contribute to James’ death.

    “steep canyon”
    There are canyon walls to the left and to the right of the Big Windy Creek, and at some point one would have to wade into Big Windy Creek itself. SAR personell in wetsuits should be able to do that.

    Wading into the creek is probably what killed James, as icy water carries away body temperature quickly.
    Not surprisingly, he was found floating in the creek.

  133. I don’t remember the last time I was so moved by a news story, and I never participate in things like this, but I just needed to tell you thanks for not only your efforts during the search, but also your ongoing efforts that will hopefully lead to improvements in the SAR process that could help someone in the future. Like others have said, it’s not only pointless to assess blame at this point, but also probably inaccurate since none of us were actually part of the operations. Obviously many people suggested that they were on 23 as soon as they heard they were missing, but who knows how many other tips and suggestions SAR got. One question I had was why weren’t they reported missing earlier? I’ve heard that they called the lodge to tell them they were going to be late, so why wouldn’t the lodge have notified authorities, especially considering the weather and terrain in that area?

  134. There are a lot of questions to ask of the procedures the SAR folks followed. It’s easy to second guess but with limited resources, you have to allocate the resources in the way deemed most likely to yield success. If James was indeed dead for 2 days before being found – I don’t understand how it took two days for him to be found when he was lying face up in the stream. Surely they flew helicopters the length of the creek multiple times. This & statements by pilots that they found clothing in places where it wasn’t the day before tells me the 2 day “hypothesis” by the medical examiner may be inaccurate. There were “hot spots” found by the FLIR at night that matched up with the locations where clothing was found.

    If I had a concern with the SAR process, my criticism would be much earlier than the land search. Why is it that employees of Edge Wireless had to get the tower registration ping info on their own. The various agencies involved SHOULD have had a subpoena to every wireless carrier in the region requesting records for any of the Kim’s phone numbers – this should have been one of the first things done in an attempt to narrow down the search area. The registration ping found by the Edge Engineers was on 11/26. Folks started looking for them on the 28th or 29th. It wasn’t until Monday the 4th that SAR was able to narrow the search down to Bear Camp because of the ping.

    Part of the SAR process early on needs to address:
    Does the missing person have a cell phone?
    What is that cell #?
    Obtain a subpoena to obtain call & switch information from cellular providers in that region & work with provider to find out where the records show the phone was last known to be.

  135. I just don’t buy the bear explanation. He had a specific destination in mind. He talked about following the river down to a small village (I guess he was assuming the banks would be walkable). He knew he had to walk East. So it makes sense taking the road back South to get a view. He probably looked around to see if he could see the main road, or if a road appeared to go straight East. Remember, he got lost and drove around those roads for 15 miles. So I’m sure by that point he knew that following the roads could get you even more lost. So when he didn’t see the main road or a straight road to the East and he saw the drainage area he probably thought his best chance was following water to the town. Unfortunately, as we now all know now, it was impassable.

    If a bear scared him down there why wouldn’t he wait or walk a ways away from the bear and then come back up on the road?

  136. I understand it was probably it was probably too late by the time they started the search for James on Monday. Given what the experts say about the dangers of exposure and hypothermia (I think the rule is 3 hours without shelter is as life-threatening as 3 days without water or 3 weeks without food), that he had already been out for a week in the elements without much heat or food when he started out, and that he must have been soaking wet and rapidly loosing what body heat he had remaining, I wonder whether he got as far as he did all on that Saturday.

    I assume the reason folks are still carrying on the conversation at this point is in the hope that procedures can be improved so that the next family stuck out in the cold doesn’t have to suffer the same fate.

    My impression about search and rescue is that it follows rigid protocols and spends less effort trying to project out from the particulars of the individual case. The parallel might be the FBI which may have once just followed the trail of clues but now spends much effort studying the nature of the individual case and make educated guesses that focus their idea of what or who they are looking for.

    Changes in how the initial search was planned might have led to an earlier rescue. The initial response seemed to be they could have been anywhere, but clearly some scenarios are much more likely than others.

    Also if the SAR could have better tools for the next case, the chances of a positive outcome would be better. For example, why is there no device that a search helicopter could use to pick up the regular pings that I believe cell phones emit, or in some other way link up to a cell phone? The Kim’s had in their cell phones a 2-way communication device, but there was no way the use it.

  137. for those who questioned him leaving the car, I saw this:
    Link to full story below.

    “It is easy to say now that Kim should have stayed with the car. But back in 1995, a salesman named DeWitt Finley was trapped on Bear Camp Road. He got his truck into a snowdrift and realized he wasn’t going to get it out. The locals say Finley, a healthy man of 56, probably could have walked out on the road pretty easily.

    But Finley was a believer. He was convinced that God would save him. For nine weeks he sat in his truck, meticulously marking off the days and writing in his diary.

    In the spring, a couple of teenagers found his body. He’d starved to death in his truck.

    Up in the mountains, they still say Finley was foolish for what he did. He could have made other choices, they say, better ones, and he might have saved himself.

    In a way, that is true of James Kim. And if it makes you feel better about yourself to criticize him, go ahead. But don’t be surprised if no one wants to hear it.

    He tried to do the best he could for his family. Trapped, cold and desperate, he had no way of knowing that help was on the way. He didn’t know that satellite technology was “pinging” the sound of their cell phone and that someone was still working on pinpointing the signal. He didn’t know that turning off the road would be a dead end.

    He pulled on his jacket, kissed his wife and children (does anyone doubt that?), and struck out toward hope. That’s what dads do. ”


  138. Some sort of cell phone tracking device would be pretty cool but I don’t think there is anything capable of tracking them in that way. A handheld cell phone is very week radio – 1/3rd of a watt. I don’t think a cell phone can be tracked. Edge Wireless did something very cool in bring a COLT (Cell on Light Tracks) out to help give service to the remote area. This is a substantial piece of equipment (picture a mid-sized semi-truck with a cell tower that can be raised) not something that can be carried with a chopper. Modern phones do have GPS chips that transmit location data when 911 is called, but it’s useless if you can’t place a call to 911.

    I really think that an improvement can be made at the onset of a SAR effort just by working with cell providers to get as much info as possible. Once SAR had the info that they had been pinged off of the Wolf Creek tower, the Kims were found within hours.

  139. Thanks for the article Tara. I had forgotten about the DeWitt Finley story. I was in High School then but it made the local news. The difference is that it wasn’t well known he was missing and the search effort was minimal. The absolute worst thing about being alone and lost in the wilderness has to be the uncertainty. Finley didn’t have the motivation to rescue his wife and children either.

  140. Over lunch, I just read the long article in the San Jose Mercury News.

    It seems a SAR team *DID* try to enter the Big Windy Creek canyon from its Rogue River end, but was unable to due to the canyon walls (i.e. no footpath).
    It seems that they didn’t want to wade into the creek (no wetsuits?) or couldn’t (too high? too fast? too risky?).
    The newspaper article doesn’t go into details.
    That must have been on Tuesday.

  141. Joe: I have appreciated having this thoughtful, even-toned blog to turn to during this ordeal (in contrast to some of the anonymous, negative postings one can find on the internet.) Thank you for that.

    In some wierd way, I keep looking for clues that James died pretty early on in his effort. I guess I don’t like the idea that he was “almost” saved, or that he suffered for so long. I want to know that his death was somehow quick and painless, that he didn’t know he was dying and that he didn’t give up hope. I guess we’ll never know.

  142. I wanted to make a correction to something I said earlier. The road that the Kims vehicle was found on is not paved – I was correct about that, but I was incorrect (in principle) to say that FS-23 is the only paved road in the area. BLM 34-8-36 is the road that you start on in Galice – This is the BLM owned portion of Bear Camp Rd. This goes roughly 12 miles (paved) before it meets FS-23. This is where I was incorrect. According to my handy Oregon Roads Atlas, BLM 34-8-36 continues on and is paved for a long way – it is a dead end, but apparently paved. Now, at some point, the Kims left 34-8-36 at some point and ended up on a dirt road above the Big Windy Creek drainage.

  143. Joy: In all likelyhood, he died on Sunday or on Monday.
    Saturday is unlikely because he got so far in what is basically an almost impassable canyon, and Tuesday/Wednesday is unlikely because 1. the coroner has said that rigor mortis had already gone away when he was found (it goes away after about 24 hours) and 2. wet as James undoubtedly got while repeatedly crossing over the creek, he couldn’t have possibly survived so long without a change of clothes and shelter.

    His body was found only about 1.3 miles (as the crow flies) from the car. I sincerely hope that he heard or even saw the helicopters touch down near the car on Monday and knew, even as he was dying, that his family had been rescued.
    (I have kids of my own and writing this just brought tears to my eyes. So sad.)

  144. Pingback: Final post - detail on a failed attempt by James Kim to hike out « Bankwatch

  145. James left the car just before 8:00 a.m. Saturday traveling 5~ miles before turning off the road. 2 miles down the ravine from the road he left some clothing. To this point of travel he may have made good time. Traveling downslope over snowpacked terrain often can be quite easy. If that were the case, darkness and the freezing night may have not been an immediate threat. Likely thinking he would reach help by nightfall, he continued on downhill towards the Rogue, help and safety. Little did he know what lay ahead. As the day waned, worried sick about his precious little ones and Kati, the impediments to his progress ever worsening, he pushed on, soaking wet and deathly cold.

    Given what we know now, I sure hope James didn’t have to endure that awful night.

  146. Joy, I don’t know if I am capable of reassuring anyone with my thoughts, but I am going to try. I was a paramedic for 10 years, and it is both my understanding through experience, and through school, that hypothermia is not “unpleasant.” I realize how that looks as I type it–but, the reason that most people start removing their clothes is because they start to feel warm to the point of being hot, and become giddily “drunk-like.” I had hypothermia as a teen in the mountains of NC; and I can tell you, it did not feel “bad.” I was giggling, and did not feel cold after a certain point.

    I hope that makes you feel somewhat better about the way that this heroic man died-

    That said, this is a story that I have been following since the beginning. This couple reminds me so much of my sister in law and her husband (their personalities, likes, interests…etc….even to the point of meeting in Eugene, OR)—and it just killed me; almost ruined my week when James was found dead—even though I completely understood that it was folly for me to think it was going to be different. I was truly hoping for a miracle, some great news in a world filled with sadness and tradgedy right now.

    Sad–I understand why you cried—I did too.

    JoeDuck–thank you for this blog.


  147. Thank you for this forum and to the writers that have chosen to reply. This story has absorbed me from the time I realized James was missing and while I have thought to post on other message boards or blogs, I feel better about doing it here for several reasons.

    1. It is easier to navigate and just plain less crowded
    2. It contains posts from intelligent people with very analytical theories
    3. It is not bogged down by “religious” debates

    Basically I agree 100% with post 169

    With the above said I’m not quite sure what I will accomplish by sharing my thoughts, but am doing so in an attempt to “move on” with my life. I do not believe I am alone in this process as at least one other poster indicated that they typically do not participate in things like this. Anyway, I have both comments and questions so here it goes:

    Has it ever been confirmed that the car was “stuck”? Every story I have read indicates that they just “stopped” and attempted to “wait it out”. I would think that at the first light of day on Sunday morning they could have driven “somewhere” even if someone had to walk ahead in the snow to help navigate. Perhaps they would have even gotten lucky enough to make that turn to the lodge.

    How was it determined that a bear steered James off his intended course and is the information reliable?

    Does anyone have and have they plotted the coordinates where they believed the “ping” hit the Kim’s phone? I do not believe that they could have driven very far in ½ hour (stories stated they stopped at 2:00 am and the ping was at 1:30) and therefore this “connected” area would have certainly been within walking distance. Furthermore I am very sure that they must have tried the cell phone so they should have realized that they received the message and that service was available. Do text messages only have the time stamp from the time they were sent or is there a way to determine at what time the phone received it?

    Were the images acquired by the satellite ever made available?

    Regarding the “one-dimensional” search referenced above I totally agree but as also mentioned several times it is easy to be a Monday morning quarterback.

    I am having a very hard time believing that James made the whole 10+ miles in a day or a day and a half and it seems like the information from the “Katie interview” was not available at the time the initial search for James began. If this is in fact the case, I find it inexcusable. As previously stated I fully agree that SAR teams should have been lowered into the canyon and worked both ways if necessary. I am leaning toward agreeing with Greg’s theory (post 171) however, and even if they were dropped in immediately it may have been too late.

    With all the media coverage of this incident I will not be surprised to see someone write a book about it. I know I would read it and I am not a very avid reader. When something catches my attention however I get engrossed and that is certainly the case here.

    Anyway it feels a little better to get some of these thoughts off my chest. Hopefully I will be able to regain some direction and let this matter go. I have been having a very hard time doing so and my concentration has suffered. I commend the idea that this fateful event is empowering some of you to take action and fix the system which failed in this case. I am a Land Surveyor by trade and have extensive experience in GPS and mapping. If these traits will help you in your mission, don’t hesitate to let me know.

    Thanks ALL for listening.

  148. Craig – Just a couple technical points that answer some of your questions.

    They were 20 miles in line of sight from the tower that found them. They cannot pinpoint coordinates based on that ping, Without getting too technical, the cell tower that the ping happened on had 3 sectors.. think of it as a 3-piece pie where each side services an area. The sector serviced pointed them towards bear camp road but doesn’t give enough info to get coordinates. Edge Wireless used computer software to model where signal MAY be available based on how radio performs and the known GIS data for the range of the tower. The most crucial thing about the cell tower ping is that SAR could tell that the Kim family didn’t take HWY 42 and that most likely they had taken Bear Camp Rd.

    Also, just because that ping happened, that doesn’t mean that the Kims could make a call. Most likely, there was a short instant where conditions allowed limited reception for a very brief time. The ping happened because a text message was being delivered. Again, this could get technical, but because of the limited bandwidth needed for a text message, a text message can be delivered with a weak signal that doesn’t allow a call to be placed.

    Finally, I’ve heard reports that they were not stuck when the stopped the car. They were also worried about running out of gas and wanted to navigate in daylight. When they awoke in the morning however, significant snow had fallen and the car couldn’t be moved.

  149. Hi Craig,

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings about this. This again makes Joe’s spot here pretty special.

    There are a few of us already exchanging information and ideas and starting formulate a plan. If you or anyone else wants to be involved drop me an email at: glennforum@yahoo.com and I will respond with the necessary information.

    If anyone out there is thinking we really can’t make a difference – please think again – we really can make a difference if you are sitting on the fence now is your chance to jump into the fire.

  150. Spencer – Thanks for the info

    I guess in my mind I’m thinking they should be able to get close to determining the “ping area” by using the GIS data you reference as well as a rate of travel for the 1/2 hour difference between the ping and the car stopping.

    The bandwidth issue as you state makes perfect sense. I never considered that.

    So..I guess they were “stuck” which in some weird way makes me feel better. I wish I knew why. Thanks again, I appreciate it!

  151. Spencer,

    Make a very good point about text messaging. Even less bandwidth is required for the VM indicator (uses the SMS layer to do that). The carriers could do something to help with this. Key inspirational and motivational messages could be sent and instructions and status. Just even an icon change on the phone from VM waiting to something like “we are looking for you”.

    I know for the amount of people that gets lost this may sound crazy but once the carriers implement it would be there and could make a difference. Who knows if the Kim’s got a ping and the icon appeared maybe then James wouldn’t have left, etc…etc…

    Just some food for thought.

  152. Sorry if this is a naive question, but the coroner stated that rigor mortis had already left the body….but how does the coroner know that it it was there in the first place ?

    Can one tell if a person has just died hours before vs a body that expired days before and had rigor mortis set in and leave ?

  153. The most terrifying aspect of this entire matter for me anyway is the thought of how I would deal with well meaning but pehaps inept SAR personel if my own family members were the subject of a search. I worked in the construction industry for many years and was once on a project where a major collapses had occured with people posibly trapped under the rubble. To my amazement the police and fire personel immediately ran off eveyone who had any experience in rigging and moving heavy objects. They then proceeded to muddle through it on their own in the most incompetent possible manner until so much time had passed they concluded that anyone in there must be dead, at which point they turned the site back over to the the construction crews who actually could have saved someone had they been trapped in there (fortunately no one was).

    You can’t fault firemen or other SAR people for not knowing what they are doing a lot of the time when it comes to rescue work. They for the most part are not trained construction workers, or rock climbers, or back country guides. I am convinced, however, that many are infected by a terrible hubris which leads them to actually prefer a failed rescue attempt over asking members of the general public for help.

    I wish it weren’t so, but as it stands now I think its very likely that a private internet based search like the type that could have been coordinated through a site such as this would usually have a better chance of success than a standard SAR response.

  154. Glen,

    Yes this is a special place. Thank you Joe!

    Regarding your last post I don’t think it sounds crazy at all. This is certainly true in this case when we have a gentleman that was (as I call myself) a “techno geek” and none of his gadgets were able to save his life. Hopefully changes to the system as you outline can be implemented as we can never be to safe.

  155. There was some new information released today [on CNN] quoting a member of a search team: “Progress in the canyon was only 500 meters per hour.”
    In other words, 3 hours 10 minutes per mile.

    Sounds very reasonable, given that you have to make sure you don’t slip, think intelligently where to step (for each and every step), climb over fallen trees and boulders and so on, sometimes even backtrack a little bit and try a different route around a boulder or a tree.

    The canyon is 5.7 miles long (counting from the point where James entered it [Google Earth]) and James’ body was found 1/2 mile from the canyon’s Rogue river end.
    5.7 – 0.5 = 5.2

    In other words, it would have taken James 3.2 x 5.2 = 16 hours and 40 minutes of hiking to get to the point where he finally died, from entering the canyon. The 4 mile walk [ Google Earth says 4 miles, not 3 or 5 ] on the road should have only taken 1 1/2 hours. Clearly, this took him not just one, but 2 full days, but not more than two days, as he was highly motivated to get help to his family.

    Given that there are only about 11 daylight hours in December [ http://www.sunrisesunset.com ] (including the twilight hours), his progress would have been as follows:

    7:45 a.m. … leaves the car, promises to be back by 1 p.m.
    9:15 a.m. … reaches the canyon, decides to enter canyon
    He now walks down the canyon, to the spot where the clothes
    were found.
    + 2.6 miles (to the spot where clothes were found) * 3.2 hours/mile = 8 hours and 20 minutes
    5:35 p.m. … twilight turns into night early, especially within the steep canyon walls

    James spends a chilly night.
    His position is 2.6 miles down the canyon from where he entered the canyon.
    On Sunday morning, he leaves behind some clothes both as a marker for searchers and to lighten his load.

    6:30 a.m. (approx) … James sets out down the canyon.
    He will cover 2.8 miles to the spot where his body is found on Wednesday. This takes approx. 2.8 * 3.2 = 9 hours.
    3:30 p.m. (approx) … Forced to walk in the stream once again, hypothermia and exhaustion overwhelm him, he falls down into the stream, never to get up again.

    James Kim died on Sunday afternoon, about 22 hours before his wife and kids were rescued.

  156. That’s an interesting analysis Greg. The 500 meters per hour is probably a slow estimate for what James was doing. He wasn’t following SAR procedures for trying to find someone.

    I will say that the 11 daylight hours isn’t right. Sunrise today in Southern Oregon was 7:29 and sunset was 4:39. That means 9hours & 10 minutes of daylight in flat terrain. When you’re deep inside a north/south oriented canyon as James was, the sun will probably be above the horizon for only an hour or two a day. There is also have a ridge to your south that probably blocks the sun in winter. Even if there was some ambient light, James would have been in the shade almost the whole time.

  157. Spencer,

    Isn’t it given those conditions that the temperature in the valley is going to be much lower than above…wouldn’t the additional cold play a factor in his ability to move.

    He was motivated but there do seem to be variables that would hinder the best of us on our best day…and he was trekking after 6 days without proper sleep, and food.

  158. Anything I say about James Kim’s pace is conjecture. The more I think about it, you are probably right. There are a lot of variables. SAR teams are meticulous and deliberate in their movements – 500 meters per hour is VERY slow even for them. That’s a distance that a track and field man could run in under a minute (obviously not the same terrain or conditions). If James had the energy reserves to do so, he probably would have moved at a faster pace than SAR.

    However, 7-9 days without substantial food is a long time. I’m a cyclist and have experienced what endurance athletes call a “bonk” on a few occasions. Once your glycogen stores (stored carbohydrates) are depleted and your body has to rely on burning stored fat & muscle for energy, you cannot sustain any intense effort and would slow down. It is a bizarre sensation. The more I think about it, James was probably in a similar condition. What that says about his pace, I don’t know.

  159. Thank you for all your work getting information out to people, Mr. Duck. I’ve been following this all week and was truly saddened that it ended the way it did.

    My heart goes out to the Kim family, the SAR teams and all those others affected by this tragedy.

    I know a lot has been said about how close to the Rogue and Black Bar Lodge Mr. Kims journey seemed to have taken him. However (and really, I’m not bringing this up to discount what a tremendous effort Mr. Kim made), barring the disclosure of trace evidence at the scene or some forensic reason that would refute my speculation, I can’t help but wonder if where he was found is actually where he perished. From the pictures I had seen, the Big Windy seemed quite capable of carrying him postmortem to the spot where he was ultimately found.

    I apologize if some find my speculation morbid. Why I’m thinking along these lines, I don’t know. The outcome is just as tragic either way. Analyzing things never really helps me understand them, it just helps me accept it.

  160. Hi Scott,

    I think Joe and everyone would agree – you can say what you have to say as long as it is said with respect. So I see no problem with your post – if it helps you then it is worth it for sure. Now on to your point…according to the searcher who dropped in to recover Kim’s body. It was his belief that James dropped right there and died. Which could very well have happened.

    Give the state he was in and if we forced into the creek while evading a bear it may have been too much for his body to take. It looks like he just stopped and dropped. Probably a heart attack if I remember correctly that is what ultimately happens in HT.

    Also if he had died upstream there probably would have been clear damage to his clothes, etc…and from the reports there wasn’t any significant marks on him.

    It really must have been an amazingly frustrating process for him. Typically chip heads (like myself) have little patience for frustration but we all possess a tenacity to get beyond what is frustrating us.

  161. BTW…this is for everyone out here.

    This looks like a decent gadget for vehicle safety.


    New BodyGard 5-1 emergency tool
    1) automatic glass cutter
    2) safety-blade seat cutter
    3) sonic alarm
    4) flashing red distress light
    5) led flashlight

    Just needs a compass and waterproof match holder it would be pretty nifty.

  162. Exclusive on TV right now..channel 56 in Bay area, with Anderson Cooper..they’re at the spot where the car was found

  163. I hear you Scott. I think all of us to some regard are trying to “accept” things.

    These are some very good calculations regarding the timeline. Using Greg’s figures as a baseline and adding or subtracting time for either quicker or slower travel, it seems to become apparent that any theory of the SAR “just missing” him is blown out the window. For that matter I think that it is safe to assume that he perished before or very shortly after his family was found.

    To use a word that has been used in the past, in some “morbid” way this makes me feel better.

  164. Thanks for the network info…CNN is literally the only one I don’t have on my computer…if anything interesting develops please let me know.

  165. As far as the timeline . . . I’ve been wondering what he did before he went down the drainage area. I remember reports of the SAR people being confused because of tracks going back and forth. Also, on the San Francisco Chronicle’s map, they have the pants being found up higher than the road, opposite the drainage areea. I imagine that he was scouting the area out. I don’t know, but it looks like one of the few areas that doesn’t have solid trees (I could be wrong). Could he see the whole drainage area, down to the river? Did he try to go up the hill a little bit to see if he could find a road? So anyway, I imagine he spent a little time here figuring out what to do and scoping out options.

    Also, I’m sure he was moving very fast when he could. Probably hazardly fast. It’s amazing he made it that far.

  166. Thanks for your responses to my post. And I appreciate people’s sentiments that they need to move on and let it go. In addition to “mourning” someone I don’t even know, I’ve been trying to understand my feelings about the whole thing and why I am so devastated. The editorial in the Chronicle today (linked by Tara in post 165)did a good job of putting words to feelings–the dismay initially that a family, especially two children, may have perished in the cold; the elation that they children were found and alive; and the (unrealistic) hope, drawn out for days, that the father could be saved.

    One thing that I’ve been thinking about more tonight: those girls have been hurt the most by the loss of their father. On the other hand, those girls are alive and have an incredible family–their mother, their grandparents (James’s Dad kicked some ass and really showed a lot of character and devotion for his son), their parents’ community…The girls are going to be ok, ultimately. It is so sad that their father will only be a series of articles and videos, but many children have suffered much worse.

    So, slowly I feel myself letting this go emotionally and accepting the facts for what they are.

    Again, thanks for the forum.

  167. Glenn, summary of CNN visiting the spot where they found the car;

    1. Investigation is starting to find out who cut the padlock on the gate that was supposed to be shut, and close off access to the road that the Kims went down

    2. CNN found a piece of the padlock that was cut

    3. Owner of the Black Bar ranch was with the CNN crew and was sifting through the remains of where the car sat…he got very emotional sifting through remains on ground: diapers, candles, babyfood, etc…..he was very sad about the irony of his lodge being so close to the car…and realizing how hard it must of been to take tires of car to start fire…and the desperation starting to set in

    4. CNN showed that a helicopter had to have been right above the car, to see it….as there was thick canopy on both sides of the road

    I was attending to my 5 month old, so I might of missed a few more details..but I think I got the major points.

  168. Here is a side view I got off Google Earth.

    The intersection at the upper right with the side road going down to BlackBar Lodge is where the Kim’s stopped their car. The Big Windy Creek is the valley on the left. It really was a heroic effort.

  169. Jason – I’ll have to search to find video. I’ve had the luxury of having local news stations broadcast the press conference, but Sheriff Anderson had a very good overview of the sequence of events & locations of the items in yesterday’s press conference. The pants were found a short distance down the canyon from where he left the road. I’ve seen some maps from newspapers that got this wrong.

  170. Joy- Well said.

    I as well have been starting to let go. I didn’t “know” James either and I do not feel we are alone in our feelings. All the best to you and everyone else who has been captivated by feelings we can’t explain.

  171. Isn’t it possible that the Kims turned LEFT onto BLM 34-8-36 at (or near) the Bear Camp Rd detour while attempting to return to Galice? It is reported that they turned around when they realized they couldn’t proceed west, and after some effort (door open, getting stuck backing around, etc) drove a while to a point where they stopped for the night. That might explain why James thought he was just four miles from Galice, and why the car is still facing AWAY from Bear Camp Road – facing west (assuming that the intersection where is car is seen is the road down to Black Bar Lodge).

  172. I agree John. Not knowing their route is another confusing aspect of the story. We may have narrowed down where it was they went off of Black Bear Road but we don’t know what happened after that. It looks like they took that BLM road at least past when it ended. It seems like he stayed on that road faithfully, never getting off it even though there were some nasty looking forks. It looks to me like that BLM road actually officially ends at about where the Kims stopped for the night. I wouldn’t be surprised if they went a little bit farther then turned around and stopped at the intersection. My guess is they took a left at the fork, it went slightly uphill and seemed rough, so they turned around and then took the third option, the road going down to the lodge. And that got real hairy. It looks like a steep and rugged road. Maybe they got stuck. After taking awhile to get unstuck, they just decide to stay at the inersection. That’s why the car was pointed that way. It was actually a good move. He kind of blocked the interscection and made the car more visible from the sky and anyone driving by would notice.

    And I guess the one person that really knows about all this is the last person I would want to ask for the details. It’s a touching, sad and incredible story. I hope the whole story gets told some day. I do have a minor connection to the Kims, so that’s why I’ve been so interested, but I like the fact that so many people actually care about this family. Like many people, I can see myself in his shoes. Maybe that’s why I like seeing this blog. The information is therapeutic for me.

  173. John.. It’s possible, but it would be VERY difficult to make a turn onto 34-8-36 from FS-23 while going East back to Galice. It’s probably a 170 degree left turn. I seriously doubt anyone would even notice the turn from that direction. I know they had to drive their car backwards for a period of time but we don’t have enough information to explain why the car was facing west.

  174. Jason – I don’t know if you have access to it, but the Anderson Cooper segment that was previously mentioned as being on CNN this evening had some good info. They had an extensive interview with the owner of Black Bar Lodge at the location where the car had been.

    The owner said that the BLM road they were on would have actually have looped back to 34-8-36 although it would have climbed quite a bit. The road that Google Earth shows going to the lodge apparently has a slide and wouldn’t have been any use.

    Another point that I previously made was echoed by the CNN reporter at the scene. The road was relatively wide at that point, but the trees up there are so tall, that visibility of the road from the air is minimal unless you are directly above them. Choppers would have to be very close to see them. This is a perspective that is skewed by Google Earth’s satellite view, but helps explain why the weren’t found by earlier searches.

  175. They drove past the the BLM fork and stayed on N23. Maybe 100 yards past the brown mileage sign at the fork there’s another yellow warning sign – ‘road may be blocked by snowdrifts’. I believe it’s at that point they decided to go back, but they could only go in reverse. It was when they had the BLM right fork in front of them again did they decide to go onto the BLM to get below the snowline. Now maybe if the BLM road had the (supposed) gate across it they would have gone back east to Galice.

  176. http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/default?o=25&f=/c/a/2006/12/07/FAMILY.TMP&type=default

    Here’s a picture of the road in that area. The BLM road is to the far right of the photo, Bear Camp Road/N23 with the orange ribbon across it to the left. You can see the yellow sign about 100 yards up.

    They could hardly have gone much further west on N23 anyway. Within 10 miles the road rises above 4000′ several times and likely was blocked with fast falling snow.

  177. The local 10 o’clock news in SF said that the family announced that there will be a public memorial service, date and time TBA, for those that might be interested.

  178. A few thoughts as more details emerge.

    Call me naive, but I’m surprised at how the national and global media have mangled parts of this story with factual errors. Makes me wonder what other stories they bungle that I dont follow as closely to be able to pick up on.

    Intellectually I am still blown away at the sheer unlikeliness of the chain of events. Id bet a few million people have roundtripped from SF to Seattle and nobody ever froze to death before. If you think about this family setting out innocently on their vacation with absolutely no idea what would soon be hurtling at them…

    Probably many people following the story realized it could have happened to them. Ive wondered what I would have done in their place. I’ve quite a bit of backcountry experience, including some off trail. And have talked to a few people about this who have even more experience than I do. At this point with the current info reported, I tend to believe even the hard core-backcountry types could easily have died if trading places from the point in the story where the car was stranded. Most of them think they’d do better, but I’ve listened to what theyd do differently and am not impressed.

    –Road 23 looks like a big road on some maps and on google and mapquest. Not once in my life have I stopped to ask a local “is this map wrong?” Dont think you can ding them for trying this road and trusting their map.

    –yes they were driving late. not ideal, but hardly something criminal or neglegent. What, the people critizing their decisions have never driven after dark in the winter? Always home before sundown? Right.

    –Pushing on. Many times I’ve been lost or sidetracked but pushed on hoping something would materialize at the next bend/intersection/exit. Late at night..want to get where they are going…map shows a perfectly good road that looks even shorter than the original route planned…I wouldnt have doubled back all the way to highway 42. Its not like he knew in advance the road he was going on was going to be dangerous and a nightmare.

    –Leaving the car Saturday morning. Absolutely NO WAY you can criticize this. He’d been there a week already! Hungry 7 month old. Hungry 4 year old. Probably out of diapers. Miserable. Burned 3 tires the day before to signal. Nothing. Winter coming on and the weather only going to get worse–any hour. Then they’d have zero chance. People should have known they were missing for 6 days–but still no rescue. Every day he waits, he risks being snowed in or growing so weak he has no option to walk out. Leaving was the right move. I might have left even earlier. Read about the guy in Washington in a similar situation the week before. Official SAR made a chickensh*t effort to find him.

    –leaving the road. At first I thought this was a terrible mistake/blunder. But then seeing the maze of forest roads he couldnt have known which road to stay on. Looks like there are quite a few spurs/mergers/splits. Unless he had his own trail to follow, the odds of going the wrong way/getting even more lost are great. And he probably wouldnt have had his tiretracks to follow. The snow would have covered them up. So unless there was some way for him to be certain he was on the right road, not such a bad move to try to follow a creek down to whatever it empties into. There is no way anyone in his condition in that weather would survive walking 30..40…50 miles on meandering forest roads. He was walking on a ridge and probably had an occassional view of a maze of forest roads stretching to the horizon. So was this his big mistake? Not unless there was a for him to be certain he was walking the same road he’d driven in on. I would have stayed on the road, but may have just wandered deeper into the forest if the way out wasnt obvious.

    –Leaving 23 and turning onto the forest road. Was this the fatal blunder? At first I thought so. That here they did something most people wouldnt do. Absolutely no way I would drive 15 windy miles down a gravel logging road with no idea where it lead. But then we read the the logging road was actually much wider than the official road. (and should have been locked but for vandals!) He may not have even realized he was no longer on the main road? Have read about they knowingly left the main road looking for a place to turn around, but that doesnt make sense. Would have been plenty of opportunity to turn around without having to go 15 miles down a logging road after midnight in a mix of snow/rain with two babies. That really makes me think they didnt realize they’d left the main road.

    Many people might miss the I5 exit in the dark. Find themselves at the next exit. See a fine looking altenate route on their map and take it, instead of doubling back for an hour. But I think few people would then leave the main road and go 15 miles down an unmarked logging road late at night and low on gas. Tragedy averted for most people in similar situation. Unless you dont realize youve left the main road–because the side road is actually wider, better looking than the real one. In which case they really had utterly merciless luck.

    So the outcome for more experience backcountry travelers might not have been any different. Walking out on the road not a sure thing if its a maze. Would never have left the main road? What if you dont know you’ve left the main road?

    Part of what makes this so sad for me, is that given the cards they were dealt, they did a lot of smart things, but still fell short. I see no obvious blunder that any other “reasonable” person would not have done–assuming they didnt know theyd left the main road.

  179. I have driven past the spot where the car was. The road leading down to the Lodge was steep and a gate was blocking the entrance. This was a couple of years ago.

    When I was up there it was easy to drive by the fork leading to the coast. There was a sign and someone had painted on the blacktop for fifty feet or so telling you you had missed the turn but the main road went by the turn off.

    It sounds like the fires almost connected with SAR. If the wood was easier to gather; if the tires could of made a larger fire; or burned later in the day. So many ifs. One newspaper said the tires were pried off. That sounds almost impossible.

    I don’t blame SAR. It was a huge effort.

  180. Truly, after taking a closer look at those roads, I can see the logic of trying to follow the river. What a terrible place to be stranded. It really makes me re-think the road trips I take, usually alone. But I think this is unique in that most of us just don’t encounter that kind of wilderness when we take a wrong turn.

    I make maps, and I know — most people just expect that the map they are looking at is accurate, and paved roads are okay to take(whether they are or not means nothing, I am saying if the maps says it is paved people believe it is). Maps are made by people. And cartographers have to decide the best way to convey information and what to include on the map. Road maps are usually pretty simple. And I know at least one of those road maps had a warning on it, but even the way it was placed was ambiguous, and it says winter, not late fall. Not blaming anyone, just saying it is easy to see that the Kim’s might have realized they were in trouble way too late.

    I probably would have left the car too, eventually, even if I was alone. I would have also followed the river I think (or tried to). I was lost in a European city once and that is exactly what I did, I made it my goal to find the river, and then follow it back into the center of the city, because it was the only thing I knew I could reliably follow.

    Especially after reading the story about the guy in Washington and the camper salesman….it seems if your a single person your best bet is to start walking cause no one is looking for you!!

    I guess, in every situation you have to follow your gut. Atleast this is a real motivator to me to stock my car with some bare neccessities, and have thought about a handheld gps.

    Every time I walk outside I feel the wind and cold, I have to walk only a few feet to my car and its so cold….I just hate thinking about what he was going through. I didn’t know hypothermia made you feel warmer, I really hope that is true.

  181. Mel,
    If the SAR reference was to my post (212), i was referring to the sorry effort official SAR made to find the missing gentleman in Washington State (post 138)not the Kim rescue. I valued the sincerity, candor and emotional commitment of the Sherrif who broke down at the news conference…as opposed to the robot State Police spokesman idiotically talking about how he didnt want 30 messages on his pager. Memo to Oregon State Police: find a better spokesperson.


  182. Roy,
    I understood you and I agree. A sfgate account said they left 23 to get below snow level. They got below but in the morning there was more snow and they were low on gas.

    With any luck they would of been ok but a lot of this is city life vs. country life. I’m country and we wouldn’t go up an unfamiliar road like that during a storm at night. Stopping several times to remove rock on a one lane road? They just didn’t know.

  183. The terrain of the upper reaches of the gulch leading down to the Rogue is very different than that of the lower canyon riddled part where James’ body was found. Travel in the upper shallow part would be relatively easy whereas almost impossible in the debris cluttered, boulder strewn water filled depths of the lower section.

    I think James could have easily traveled the ~2 miles of the upper reaches in short order over that light snow covered and relatively easily traversed terrain.

    And by early afternoon Saturday be at the spot he left the clothing articles.

    Then began his hellish trek.

    Desperate, fearful for the lives of his little ones and Kati, frigid darkness becoming an increasing threat, soaked, shivering cold, he pushes on with superhuman effort to 1/2 mile from the Rogue. Stopped by the blackness of night and the impossibility of his situation, James never sees the light of Sunday.

  184. When Bear Camp Road breaks away from Galice Road, it is numbered as BLM-34-8-36. At the point where Bear Camp Road becomes SF-23, the Kims stuck with 34-8-36. Sticking with the same road number might be my best guess as well if I were at an intersection and confused on which way to go. I too would like to see a picture of the road signs at that intersection. And I am surprised there was no sign pointing out that that spur road led to the Black Bar Lodge. Even though it would not attract tourists, you would think they have to resupply the lodge and employees have to get there, why not put a sign at the closest crossroads?

  185. I take strong exception to some of the critiques posted earlier of the SAR methods and armchair advice on how James Kim could have / should have been found. These are motivated, hard working volunteers in most instances risking their own lives to potentially save another. They deserve only praise for their valiant and tireless efforts. There are many issues to remember before casting aspersions on their efforts:

    1. Searchers have on obligation to remain safe themselves. Attempts at rescue only become more complicated if the searchers themselves are injured or lost.

    2. The challenge of allocating wisely scarce resources: one critic suggested having multiple teams rappel into the canyon at regular intervals all the way to the confluence with the Rogue. How many helicopters would that take ? How much risk is there inherent in such a momumental undertaking for the rescuers themselves ? Does the author have any idea what that would cost ? What if Kim had left the canyon at some point ? Josephine county does not have a fleet of helicopters nor a platoon of volunteers at their disposal.

    3. The brutally rugged unforgiving terrain and conditions. Locals who know that area well understand and empathize with the frustrations of the SAR personnel. Critics woefully underestimate just how difficult it is to safely work your way down that watershed and how slow the going is. The foliage is dense and unpenetrable in places. Visibility from a helicopter to the ground is non-existent in most places.

    The sad reality is that Kim was likely dead shortly after his wife and family were found, possibly even before and, if not, surely perished shortly thereafter. The cards were stacked against him being found alive from the beginning. He had not eaten in 7 days. He was likely dehydrated. He was very poorly clothed for the conditions. He was wearing tennis shoes where boots were a must.

    Kim, too, shares a hand in his own fate. I have traveled that road many times. It is marked in numerous places as hazardous / impassible in winter; marked in locations well before they got into trouble. That James had to stop and get out of the car in several places to remove rocks before they could procede speaks loudly about just what kind of conditions they could expect if they continued. He had an infant and a very young child in the back seat. Proceding with such precious cargo in his charge was careless at best.

    Having said that, his courage and resourcefulness in caring for his family after they were stuck is commendable, and his trek for help heroic and inspiring. That he made it as far as he did given his condition, and the conditions, is miraculous and touching.

  186. Paul,
    I dont have enough info to judge whether the official effort was top notch or not. There have been many good suggestions here and elswhere as to how SAR could improve their methods of locating people lost in wilderness. This particular effort appears to have been quite competent.
    I think asking questions about decisions and methodology is perfectly reasonable. Government by the people for the people. One question I would have is how many teams were working the valley bottom. It would only take one helicopter to drop multiple radio equipped teams into the valley, shuttling back and forth from the logging road. If they lacked people, I’d bet locals would have volunteered and signed liability releases. The terrain was brutal for someone starving, wet and not properly dressed. Not so bad for a highly fit, experienced professional or backpacker. Mountaineers still climb to the top of various 10,000+ peaks in the Northwest all winter long. Skiers do some crazy backcountry stuff. Even barring a helicopter dropping off teams, multiple teams could have simply climbed (walked) down from the ridgetop at different points along the creek route. I dont know for a fact that they didnt have multiple teams working the creek. If they didnt, no obvious excuse for why not occurs to me.

  187. I am terribely saddened by the loss of James Kim. I have been praying since day once that they would all be found alive.

    Me and My father were wanting to go help look for them as we know the area quite well, but ended up not going…. Looking back I wish we had.

    Personally, I would NEVER have went down into Big Windy Creek. I would have followed the road. Go out the same way you came in.

    But at the same time, If it were me, I would have NEVER taken that road to begin with. Its too risky, but as someone said, its city vs. country –

    It’s just too tragic. This never should have happened.

  188. I think it is obvious that James Kim made mistakes. He wouldn’t be dead without some mistakes being made.

    Anything in life can be done better the second time around. There has to be dialogue about what could be done better by everyone involved. Hopefully the government authorities won’t be defensive and will accept advice.

    As a city girl with probably about as much outdoor experience as James Kim, I certainly have learned a lot.

  189. RE: Roys response to my earlier post: “Not so bad for a highly fit, experienced professional or backpacker.”…not so bad ??…I can only assume you’ve never been in the area under discussion. While I agree asking questions is reasonable and discussion & debate could potentially improve future efforts, as someone who knows the area and terrain well I find some of the comments about what could have / should have been done hard to digest.

    In reading the various posts the more reasonable & realistic, in my opinion, come from folks (Spencer, JoeDuck) who have good knowledge of the area. I wish one of the SARs involved would chime in as I suspect they would have some very strong opinions on some of the comments. Descending from those ridgetops is hardly easy nor safe. The lower drainage of Windy Creek would be & is extremely challenging and horrifically difficult for the most well equiped, conditioned professional…glacially slow going at best. Various reports have commented that rescuers had to keep coming out because the only way to procede down the drainage was to get in the creek and, even in a wetsuit, you’ll start getting hypothermic if you do that at this time of year. A swiftwater rescue team, a team specifically trained in whitewater rescue, a group well qualified to make such an attempt, tried to ascend from the Rogue confluence and found impassable conditions.

    I think folks who know the area well view some of the suggestions far differently than those who don’t as they comprehend that many of them simply could not have been prudently implemented. It is a testament to his love for his family and his will and determination to see them rescued that he made it as far as he did. There is good reason Kim’s effort was categorized as “superhuman” by authorities – given the conditions in that drainage, it was exactly that.

    Given that it was his footprints in the snow that first caught the eye of the pilot who found his wife one could argue that, in the end, James succeeded in saving his family.

  190. Paul-
    “Given that it was his footprints in the snow that first caught the eye of the pilot who found his wife one could argue that, in the end, James succeeded in saving his family”
    well said.

  191. Paul,

    I have nothing bad to say about SAR. Of course it is hard for anyone on the outside to feel helpless, so I understand both sides of that argument.

    Just in regard to your statement about the terrain. I agree. I downloaded some USGS dems so that I could get a better idea of what its really like there, I did slope analysis too, and it really is near vertical or is vertical in some places. Hard to believe.

    That is the kind of information people dont have, and it would be great if the news media and or local agencies knew how to diseeminate that info graphically/ on a map to the public.

    I know most people who participated in the effort must have felt very let down when it ended the way it did.

  192. I think almost all of us recognize SAR voluteers as motivated, dedicated, and very brave. And I think almost of us recognize James and Kati Kim as motivated, dedicated and very brave. I don’t think most of the comments about what happened, and what could happen differently are meant as a criticism. It’s human nature to be curious and understanding what happened, it can give you to ability to improve things. A story like this makes you think about what went wrong and what went right, and what would have to be done to change it, for it to go better the next time.
    So we start by realizing we all have to be responsible for our own safety. But this story reminds us, that we are not prepared properly. So in this story, we see ourselves, how we could have easily made the same decisions. And how unprepared we are right now if we had to spend a single night in freezing temperatures. And what can be changed about the system itself? For example, you say a problem is that a rural county responsible for SAR has limited resources for helicopters and volunteers. So a possible solution, set up a national association of SAR volunteers, set up a website, and when a situation like this happens work out a system for getting in more resources and volunteers and organizing them. Also have that webpage set up to efficiently accept and distribute donations. That way the thousands of us around the world that want to help, but would be a real hinderance if we actually showed up to help, can send money. And then if the county has to hire extra resources, those donations can be used to pay for that. Another possible problem is that roads and road signs are confusing for tourists. Possible solution, in many parks on the trails, there are posted map signs, showing the trail, close by shelters, roads and all the maps are identical, making it cheaper to produce them. But each one has a little red “you are here” dot. Get signs like that made up showing the main roads and logging roads and nearest shelters and post them at the intersections. A problem was that once they realized the Kim family was missing, they didnt’ know exactly where. I was reading a post somewhere at a possible solution to that is to have the all the local SAR immediately contract the local cell towers to figure out the latest signal from cell phones. I’m just saying that everyone did their best, but any system can use reviewing and improvements and modernization. I actually really like the idea of a national assocation with a webpage for SAR groups to use for help and the rest of us to use for information and education.

  193. Susan that is such an excellent idea, and you really put into words what I was thinking but couldn’t quite forumalte!

  194. I too have tried not to get frustrated at the criticism of the SAR effort. This SAR effort which performed admirably in some of the worst terrain possible. I said this before, but the success rate for these things is not very good. SAR efforts usually don’t start until a week after the person was last seen.

    Lets look at another Southern Oregon case from late October. This also had some media attention (although not as much as the Kim case.) A young child was with his father at Crater Lake National Park. They were walking down the loop road and at some point the child (mildy autistic) got away from the father. This is near a trailhead parking lot on a fairly well traveled road inside a national park. Search & Rescue very quickly had over 100 guys from all over the state with similar training up there for several days but never found a sign of the kid. The search area was much smaller. There was the possibility that the kid fell over the cliff towards the lake, but they even had divers looking for him. The terrain on the north side of the rim is much less extreme and the weather was better than it was in the Kim case. SAR was just as devoted and organized in that case.

    These things are difficult. SAR operates in a vacuum and is always playing from behind. More than a few of us (myself included) see the need to review their procedures to ensure continuous improvement but faulting their efforts while sitting at a computer hundreds (or even dozens in my case) of miles away doesn’t accomplish much either.

  195. Paul,
    You are correct, I havent been in that precise area. Have you been down in that canyon? Highway 42 is as far south as I’ve been for hiking so far. Most of my hiking around the Coastal Range has been in central Oregon and includes off trail hiking. Even more rain up that way. Also in the Olympic Penninsula in Washington, which gets way more rain and has thicker vegetation. Have also hiked in jungles and swamps. One can see from the google earth almost all of the canyon is heaviy forested. That tells you right away most of the canyon is not so steep to be impassable. Not sure what we are disagreeing about here. You offered lack of helicopters as a reason they might not have dropped off multiple teams. Doesnt sound like a valid excuse to me. If you are saying the terrain is so bad there that professionals couldnt work efficiently or in number, then I am extremely skeptical of that excuse. Also dont understand why dogs couldnt work there. In one, maybe two days, a starving weak man with inadequate clothing, tennis shoes (no ankle support)and little experience traveled almost the length of the canyon. I would expect a well-fed, well trained, well equipped professional to do much better, given a life is on the line.
    At no point did I say this SAR team didnt do a good job. So nothing to argue about there. They probably did have multiple teams in the canyon. But if they didnt or if they only worked from one end as some have suggested, then that sounds like a questionable decision that I think should be subject to review. Everybody just wants the best SAR system possible right? And if nationwide they need more resources then they should damn well be given more resources.

    Someone asked why there werent more signs around pointing to the lodge. Many backcountry cabins have terrible problems with vandalism and dont particularly want a neon sign guiding people to their steps.

  196. As soon as I heard the Kim’s were missing and their last known location in Roseburg and their destination of Gold Beach, I had a chill. I have been in that area, but in July/August, and remembered the Idaho salesman who was found in the spring back in the 1990’s after being stuck all winter. I emailed to CNET immediately and told them to tell someone to get helicopters to check out that road as soon as possible. And then I prayed.

    I was so glad to see Kati and the girls found safe. But when they told that James had left Saturday am and not returned, lots more prayer. Sadly, I don’t think he ever heard the copters and search efforts or he would have stayed in one place and concentrated on signaling. Especially after reading this article… http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news/116555193774760.xml?oregonian?lctop&coll=7 stating the medical examiner said he had been dead at least two days prior to being found.

    I think he really did use superhuman strength, made it to the spot where the clothes were found and spent the night, then pressed on on Sunday until hypothermia became too much for him.

    So very sad. My heart goes out to the family and friends of this heroic man.

  197. If any comment I made was interpreted as criticism of the SAR effort, I sincerely apologize, as it was not intended. Those folks out risking their lives to try to rescue a stranger represent the best of humanity, to be sure.

    But it seems there is a role for getting useful input from the public. This is probably more true for the intial search where there is a large area of interest and much uncertainty.

    There was case in the San Francisco Bay area, a pediatrician vanished after leaving her office in an urban area. She was only an occasional driver, on her way to a meeting a few miles away. The police were uncertain – could she have been carjacked, kidnapped, did she run away to start a new life somewhere, was there an accident? For weeks there were no clues – the car was not located, her credit cards were not used. An accident seemed the most likely explanation, but why was she not located? Her possible routes took her near the bay and over bridges. I started searching Google Earth for roads she may have taken that could end in skidding off into the bay. But everywhere seemed too far from the bay to go into it without a trace. That is, except for one, a road, which in the middle seems like a major street ended straight into the water. It was a boat ramp, which had no gate or curve as is usually the case, only a yellow light. On a winter evening, the asphalt, wet from rain would look similar to the dark water ahead. But I didn’t contact anyone because, it seemed to me, well they must have already searched there. But that is exactly where her submerged and inverted car was found a few months later.

    So when this case happened I did decide to throw in my two cents and sent an email by last Sunday to the family website (not knowing who else to contact) suggesting that the most likely scenario was an accident with the car skidding off an embankment along what on my maps was called Road 23, ending up hidden by trees. This was based on the fact that I would probably have taken that road (it appears similar to 42 as a secondary road on some maps, it seems a more direct route, and it allows you to stay on the main highway longer before heading over). I had assumed all the snowbound roads would be checked first.

    I read in the papers that many locals also suspected that the Kims most likely ran into trouble somewhere along Bear Camp Road, and the helicopter pilot searched that area on a similar hunch. A ranger up there was quoted also in the paper saying the first he heard they went missing in the mountains he thought they may have mistakenly gotten off onto the BLM roads.

    A plan to launch a website when such an event arises in the future, for the purpose of making sure the authorities and all searchers get all possible information and suggestions, seems like a good idea.

  198. Roy,
    You have unrealistic expectations. Also, dogs were there and I think not used much. One handler that was there gave the reasons why she wouldn’t use her dog. It was on the forum with thousands of posts.

  199. Spencer – many thanks for your ongoing responses. I appreciate the insight you offer, and have come to look forward to responses.
    Paul – thanks as well for your respectful thoughts as expressed in #221. I agree.

  200. Thanks to the guest who posted the last article – It’s by far the best news article I’ve seen on the situation. Very thorough and even if it doesn’t add a lot of new information, it puts everything in one place.

  201. Thank you all for the thought-provoking discussion.

    Kim was desperate, and understandably so. He should have moved more slowly, rested as needed, stayed dry, and avoided the set of fatal mistakes that led to his death. This is what I read between the lines of “superhuman effort.”

    One of the complexities of SAR is that if any of your own people get hurt, you have to cut additional resources into rescuing them. Just putting on a Sheriff’s Dept. jacket does not make you immune to accident, injury, etc.

    To answer another poster, our fear of liability makes any government agency very wary of accepting private help, however better qualified they may or may not be. Agency accepts offer of help. Helper drowns. Agency loses its next years operating budget to vengeful next of kin. X number of people are not rescued the year following.

    I agree completely that analog cell service should not be turned off in 2008 as scheduled.

  202. I have been following this story on this site (thanks to Google) from my comfy home in Iowa all last week. At the time of this post, there are many questions about this incident that remain unanswered – questions that I can’t let go of. I’m sure it is the same for many of us out there who have become captivated by this story and wished for a different outcome. The question I can’t get out of my head is: Did James do some scouting on the roads leading onward from where they had stopped at the fork before attempting to backtrack out on Saturday 12/2?

    I sure wish he would have checked out the road that would have lead him to Black Bar Lodge before setting out on his last journey. (Or did he?) Sure the lodge was closed. But I’m sure he would have gained entry and found shelter, maybe the means to start a fire, maybe some food, a wide open area on the ground to signal rescuers in the air, etc. I’d like to know more about the state of Black Bar Lodge this time of year. Would it have provided life-saving shelter?

    Also of interest to me, does the road leading to Black Bar begin a downhill grade immediately from the location of their car? If James was initially thinking he might follow the river, he would have known he would need to descend to that elevation at some point. Why not investigate the convenience of a road leading downhill so close by? This makes me wonder if the “follow the river” plan was really a last resort plan to begin with. Maybe James saw no benefit in expending energy scouting for a way down to the river prior to his trek out. Was his only goal a road route to Galice? When he decided to descend into Big Windy Creek, did it cross his mind to go back to the car and check out “that other road down.”

    I visited this region once in the mid 90s, having rafted a “tame” stretch of the Rogue River in the vicinity of Galice with a friend who had moved from Iowa to Ashland, OR a year or two before. It was my first and only trip to date to the Pacific Northwest. I can’t begin to describe how much I was taken by the natural beauty of this region, having grown up amidst endless vistas of corn and soy beans. It has beckoned me back ever since.

    Over the past year, my wife and I have been contemplating a trip back to this region with our two daughters before my oldest graduates from high school in the next few years. I want both of my children to see what a real “wilderness” is like. It’s impossible to experience that in the region we live in. Since visiting there, I’ve always equated “wilderness” with the Rogue River. I have to admit however, if we do come to southern Oregon, it will be very difficult for me to avoid the urge to check out the area of this tragedy, simply to help me put to rest some of these questions that are nagging me.

    I fear that many people may also become so curious about proving their own “theories” that some will actually set out to investigate the scene on their own and put themselves at similar risk, gates or no gates across the roads. Of course I would never intend to take off down Big Windy Creek, but I know there are enough crazy people out there who might not be able to resist the urge, for one reason or another.

    With all due respect to James and his family, does anyone else worry that this dangerous area will become some sort of morbid tourist attraction due to the publicity of this story?

  203. I was surprised to learn from the Oregonlive article that the Sheriff’s immediate thought upon hearing of the missing Kim family on Wednesday night was about Bear Camp Road. A pair of Snowcats I believe drove the road on Thursday. It is unfortunate in hindsite that a detailed search of that area was not followed up on until the following Monday, given that many people were suspicious about this area from the beginning.

    The article reports the Sheriff’s own statements indicating the lack of one agency in charge to make plans limited the initial response of the various jurisdictions.

    So again, it seems a volunteer effort during the next such incident, designed to make sure all the relevant jurisdictions are getting all relevant information might be useful.

  204. The Grants Pass Daily Courier is reporting the estimate of the distance Mr. Kim traveled from his car has been revised from 10 miles to actually more the 16 miles.

  205. It is being reported the car was not located at the intersection of the trail to the Black Bar Lodge, but was at another intersection more than 6 miles farther down the road, and that this side road was a dead end to nowhere.

  206. It isn’t very comforting at all that county lines prevented the search from being effective at the beginning. That is definitely not government working for the people.

  207. I have been reading all of this and can’t get over all that this family went through. I hope and pray that none of my family members will ever have to make these difficult decisions.

    I don’t know how many of you have done any driving at night when it is snowing, but it is very hard to see the edge of the road, let alone see if it is a paved road or gravel road. And if the road is wider than the road you had been on you would think you were on a more traveled road and should be okay.

    So then when they had been stranded in the car for a week and were out of diapers and food, had no heat source, and it seemed that no one was looking for them in the area, then James did what he had to do – he headed out on foot and left the vehicle. He was not looking out for himself but for the rest of his family. He did what he had to do to try to help his family.

    We can easily say that he should have stayed with the car when we look at how things turned out. But if we had been there in that car for a week (try sitting outside your house in winter for a week with no electricity or food and see what you think then) we would also think that we needed to do something. James is a hero! There is no other way to put it. He put his life, literally, on the line. And I hope and pray that his family will always know that. He did what he could and what he thought was best. He tried as hard as he could. And I don’t think there is anyone out there who could have done any better.

    Thanks, Joe Duck, for this website. This whole situation has really touched me. I never knew any of these people but I hope and pray that none of my children will EVER have to make the decisions the Kims had to make.

  208. Well, that would put them close to the end of that road. Troy, as I remember, the road to the lodge was rough and goes downhill right away. As for it being an attraction, few locals had driven by the lodge, and I’d doubt a lot will now. It’s a long drive over poor roads with no access to the river.

  209. WHAT? How can the location of the car be in dispute? Didn’t the owner of the Black Bar Lodge go to the scene on CNN? Why didn’t he say the location was incorrect? I’m very confused now.


    Thanks for all your posts. They’re spot on. I agree with your analysis about how they took the BLM road instead of Bear Creeck Rd. I remember hearing about how they drove in reverse.

  210. I’m a bit skeptical about this new location for the car. I mean, a fire chief is the one who “clears the public record”?

    Anyway, I did step out another 6.37 miles and, with only two other possible turns on the road – both of which actually lead back towards BLM 34-8-36, this location:


    happened to fall at exactly 6.37 miles. I guess what I’m saying is, if the car was 6.37 miles further down the road, this location, not even half a mile above Kelsey Falls, is probably it.

  211. Jason…the owner of lodge stated when he got to the car it was not where they said it was.

    Does the extra distance impact the time-table people were working on here?

  212. I found this on SFGate

    “The owner of a lodge on the road where the Kims’ car was stuck had told authorities three days before Kati Kim and her daughters were found that he had seen tire tracks in the snow, but he hadn’t been able to follow them in his snowmobile once he hit bare ground. No one followed up.”


    Unbelievable. I can’t believe this information wasn’t followed up.

    Another thing. The man that was rescued in Washington was rescued by snowmobile. Does anyone know if they sent snowmobiles on every road that was snow covered? This seems like a cheap and easy way to explore a lot of ground.

  213. Well, I guess that answers my question as to why James didn’t check out the route to Black Bar Lodge. When will the inaccuracies in the reporting of this story end? At this point, I really question everything that is supposedly “known” about this story to date.

    That aside, this new information changes the dynamics of the incident yet again. Now my main question is: What was it about Big Windy Creek that prompted James to leave the road there? Would there not have been other suitable drainages to descend prior to that one? Would he have passed by the fork road descending to Black Bar and the Rogue? Was he holding out for a road rescue up to a certain point in time and then decided he had no choice but to take the next best route downward – which happened to be Big Windy Creek?

    Maybe these questions don’t really need answering. Even if he would have made it through Big Windy to the Rogue, then what? Would the rescuers still have been too late given the conditions? Was he simply doomed from the start when he set out? If he would have stayed with the car, would any chopper have found them at all?

    In the end, it was James’ tracks in the snow that led the chopper pilot Rachor to Kati and the girls. James saved his family.

  214. I think the decision for James to leave the car makes absolute perfect logic from the perspective of maximizing the chances of his wife and children being rescued at the risk of his own life. Him staying behind would not have significantly changed the chances of SAR finding the car but by leaving the car he was increasing their chances of being found by adding the possibility that he would be able to find help and get it to his family. Being a father myself with a young son I believe I would have taken the same action if it gave my family a better chance at the risk of my own life.

  215. Troy: Assuming the location I mapped out by stepping out 6.37 miles in Google Earth are correct, on James’ return he’d have walked past two drainages. The first one short (1 mile) but steep (1500′) down to the river above Kelsey Falls. The next drainage would be about 2 miles with only 1400′ drop to the river, about 1.5 miles upriver of Black Bar Lodge. And since his intent was to go east, he’d have walked past the lodge.

    That adds to my skepticism. If James’ intent was to reach the river, why would he not have followed this gentle incline? So I’ll remain on the fence about this extra 6.37 miles till someone besides the fire chief says so, and confirms the new location, if there really is one.

  216. From what I understand from interviews with the sheriff, a pair of Snowcats went down Bear Camp Rd on Thursday, and it seems like no one came out to the area of Bear Camp and back into the BLM roads until Monday morning. Actually the helicopter pilot said he flew over on Sunday on a hunch and saw tire tracks going in but no second pair of tracks coming out. He was low on gas and came back again on Monday, at that time he saw searchers were at the location where he had found the tracks earlier. The pilot found and followed Mr. Kims footprints back to the car.

    If there would have been any way to speed up the search by a few days, obviously there would have been a happier outcome.

  217. correction, the second drainage leads to the river at a spot 1.5 miles DOWNriver of Black Bar Lodge.

  218. Jason,

    Thanks for the link…boy that article makes my blood boil. It is amazing! This could have been a much different outcome.

  219. I had been a bit suspicious about the statement that they were at the intersection with the road down to the lodge since last night when the CNN show came on with the interviews at the location of the car. The lodge owner was interviewed and didn’t seem to recognize the road that supposedly went to his lodge and said that it was blocked by a slide… and had a BLM designation. The road down to Black Bar lodge is pretty clearly a 4 wheel drive double track road. That road on CNN looked much better maintained.

    If you have Google Earth, it would appear the car was actually at:

    42°41’25.55″N, 123°46’35.68″W
    http://www.siskiyouvelo.org/Correct_Car_ Placement.kmz

    A couple things. I can’t address why the tire tracks in the snow weren’t followed up on. It’s understandable that the car coordinates may be a relayed wrong thought. The people doing the mapping & public reporting were never in the mountains, they were in the Merlin HQ the whole time. It’s the old story about about how facts change each time they are relayed from person-to-person. It’s still surprising that it took this long to get corrected.

    They were 25 miles from Bear Camp Road based on the route we thought they took. I have to wonder if they got off of Bear Camp Rd at a different point.

    However they got there, James walking 10 miles down the road is amazing.

  220. There is yet another drainage ditch, not a mile further down the road from where the car was supposed to have been. So even if the location I mapped out is not the right one, no matter what James would have walked past this. It’s 1.5 miles down with a 1700′ drop and leads to the river a 0.5 miles downriver from Black Bar Lodge.

    Why would James have walked by at least one, if not three, much shorter and gentler sloped drainages to reach the river only to backtrack 5 miles and decide to go into the Black Windy Creek drainage? I think the car really was in the spot we’ve previously heard.

  221. Spencer, we’ve come up with the same location. This would mean that James on backtracking bypassed -three- easy drainages, only to go back 5 miles and try the Black Windy Creek. I just don’t understand.

  222. wow…the more I read that article Jason…that really gets me upset. There should have a been a very good chance of finding that car on Saturday. The mistakes LE/SAR made are really pathetic – now I know they worked hard and busted their tails but after reading that article I don’t see how anyone can walk-away from this without feeling pretty upset – this really could have and SHOULD have turned out differently.

  223. BP.. KTVU has video on Tuesday of the location where the car was found from helicoper. I can’t do a screenshot of it, but it very clearly shows the new intersection. It’s a distinct shape and can’t be the old location.

    Again – we’re all speculating – I think James went 10 miles on a road, he got frustrated, he knew his goal was to get to the river and that’s when he left the road. That makes more sense to me than giving up on the road after an 60-90 minute hike on the road.

  224. James plan made sense …scouting the nearby territory and if unsuccessful in reaching help he was to return to the car by early afternoon that day, Saturday.

    His fatal error was not returning per plan.

    Ironically within a few hours of leaving the car, by leaving his footprints in the snow he inadvertently had already accomplished his objective of attracting the help, albeit coming 2 days later.

  225. Somebody leaving the car and walking by the lodge entrance would not have been able to hear or see the river. Without a sense of the lay of the land you would need to walk to a higher spot to be sure.

    About the tracks; it had not yet been determined that the Kims were in this area. Still, a possibility missed.

  226. The narrative of this episode has obviously jelled: James Kim was a hero who “did nothing wrong”. Now let’s find someone to blame. Or, better yet, sue.

    Nonsense. Forgive this old curmudgeon, but one person could easily have averted this entire tragedy, and that person was James Kim. James put his family at grave risk and was primarily responsible for their predicament.

    He made a series of bad choices throughout the entire day he left Portland for Gold Beach. His first mistake was leaving here so late in the day that he would be forced to cross the 5000 ft Coast Range in total darkness under wintry conditions. His second … and frankly most inexcusable … mistake was not gassing up his vehicle in Roseburg before crossing the mountains. (Kati Kim has said that some 50 miles up the mountain, they considered turning back but were concerned they didn’t have enough gas for the return trip to Grants Pass. That Saab hold 15.9 gallons and gets 29 mpg highway. Connect the dots.) His third mistake was not doubling back to take Oregon 42 across the mountains after missing that exit off I-5. His fourth was to continue up the Forest Service road past any number of yellow signs warning that the summit might be impassible and despite clear indications … like the rocks he had to push off the roadway … that the road had not been travelled in recent days. He was low on gas and running very, very late.

    I hope none of the more sympathetic commenters here would repeat that chain of poor decisions under similar circumstances. Enough with the myth-making.

  227. Time to delurk seeing that the nasties are showing up—yes, that’s you I mean, “ghostcat.” I’ve been reading this forum for days now because it’s intelligent, challenging but also has heart, not venom.
    Regarding James Kim walking back on the road, then veering off away from the Rogue River and only then deciding to go down a drainage: it would seem to me that he set out to reach that town that he thought was only 4 miles away as a bird flies; so from the place we now know the car was at, he tries to follow the Rogue River eastward using roads but when the roads veered off too much to the west and he caught a glimpse of the lay of the land, he decided that going down the Windy Creek and getting to the Rogue River itself was the only way to stay on track.

  228. Spencer: Thanks for the link to the video. Yeah, James had driven 25 miles into the logging roads, wow. So far in, that if he had a map of the logging roads, it’s only about 8 miles back to N23. The only feature for this area on the DOT map he was using is actually Howard Creek, 2 miles east of Big Windy Creek.

    Mel: If there was ever a chance to hear the river, it would have been where it turns out the car was – half a mile above Kelsey Canyon/Falls (class II).

  229. Ghostcat.. Whether stated or unstated, I don’t think one person who has posted here would say that the Kims didn’t make mistakes by the handful. Those mistakes cost his life and could have cost much more.

    We all make bad decisions. I’ve done some pretty stupid stuff that should have gotten me into trouble when I’m outdoors. SAR is there to help people whose bad decisions have gotten them in trouble.

    There have been a few folks with sincere criticism of SAR but in large, this is largely a discussion to help our understanding of the events and in some of our cases, we’re hoping to work to create ways to improve SAR efforts in the future. I have a friend who lost her son in a rafting accident – Josephine County SAR was tireless in their efforts to recover him. She has devoted a lot of her life since then to helping get SAR needed funds. Seeing this unfold in my back yard tells motivates me to see what I can do.

  230. Ghostcat, go screw yourself. I like this site because it doesn’t have people like you on it. Please go to another site.

    Everyone on this site agrees that some mistakes were made. By all parties. It was a tragedy. We’re not trying to “make myths” about the man.

    And yes, you are a curmudgeon. I just don’t understand people like you. Most everyone on this site has been critical but sympathetic. You’re critical and a jerk to boot.

  231. Here’s a JPG from the Oregon DOT map (posted upthread) that the Kims’ were likely using (caveat: The link was to the 2005 – possibly the 2006 was different)

    (I have not retouched it in any way.)

    The stream coming south from the Rogue River (waterway) is actually the Howard Creek, since it runs generally N-S. Also note the pink box and arrow “This route is closed in winter”

    I’d like to know where the Kims’ thought they were.

  232. There are important survival lessons in this story. When you’re through empathizing, you should pay attention to them. James put his two children at grave risk and could well have been responsible for their death. Deny that and you are a fool.

    See ya.

  233. BP maybe this is because of the resolution and the colors are better in print but the oregon DOT should strongly consider making that red arrow the same color as the box that outlines the warning. the arrow is red and the box is pink (at least this is how it looks on my computer screen). The first few times I looked at this map I did not even notice that red arrow because it blends in with the other red lines used for other purposes. (bad idea to use red for two different purposes anyway, especially when one purpose signifies danger)

    I dont mean to sound picky, its confusing and not good practice. I know from looking at maps that the box is sitting on what I think is the county line, but it could be interpreted to be an unpaved road as well. These are choices cartographers make and must consider.

    thanks for the picture

  234. Buh Bye!

    You’re one heartless man. I’d like to see you say to Kati’s face what you just wrote.

    Who cares about assessing blame? James and Kati both made decisions that were wrong in hindsight (and how many of us can say we wouldn’t do the same thing?). But James is also responsible for saving his family. Read the Oregonlive article linked above. The helicopter pilot saw his footprints and tacked them back to the family car.

  235. Frances, your post is the anti-SAR equivalent of the ghostcat post. And I agree with both of you.

  236. The aid given by “civilians” in this case is remarkable. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

    The Oregonian article posted late yesterday explained the confusion over jurisdiction very well. No one has ever explained why the focus moved away from Bear Camp Rd until the cell phone data came in. Initially, the SFPD was in charge to some degree. Did SFPD make the decision to refocus the search to the north? Surely they didn’t know the long history of the Bear Camp area. If the Kims were last seen in Oregon and their next destination was to be in Oregon, some body within this state should have control of the investigation at all stages. SFPD may have been making inquiries & requests of the local agencies about a missing person and those agencies were doing their best to do what was asked of them. Maybe SFPD wasn’t in “control” of an investigation per se, but no group in Oregon had done anything but follow their requests.

    If there is merely confusion between state, county and local agencies because no one body has control, this needs to be fixed as well. I don’t have the administrative expertise to give a good suggestion.

    Everything above is speculation. The best efforts were seen once Josephine County SAR had clear command over OSP, Jackson County and all of the other agencies involved. To the original point, I think that there was a disconnect in authority at some point. I don’t believe that anyone with good knowledge of the history around Bear Camp would have decided to move the search away.

    One other thing – Josephine County as a government does not have helicopters. Their sheriff’s department has seen their numbers and budget cut all too often. A couple years ago, I recall hearing that there were daylight hours where they couldn’t afford to have a single Sheriff patrolling county roads. On 11/29, They were asked to search Bear Camp Rd which they did. Curry County searched their end as well. This happened on the 29th & 30th via 4×4 & SnoCat. With limited resources, they couldn’t be expected to expand their search to the maze of side roads. It took a much larger search effort from the air to find the Kims. It comes back to the fact that there needs to be a repository for information and a clear pecking order for all situations.

  237. The most disturbing thing about this whole ordeal is what led to Katies & the kids rescue and finding James were the efforts of people NOT officially involved in the search, only people who cared, Bless them, even in spite of the fact this is an area, the logging roads around this area, where people are KNOWN to get stranded in. If there is any good to come of this ordeal, I hope it’s for the officials in that area to learn lessons so this doesn’t happen to others. Not degrading the efforts they made, but as I stated, this is an area where people are known to get stranded in.

  238. I’m not sure lack of resources can really be to blame. Kim’s Dad is obviously very wealthy and would’ve put money wherever necessary, if told what was needed.

  239. :makes all kind of gay love wih you.
    “Me kids.
    woody allen!
    Oh wait, there’s a spell.
    We need sturdeous dudes to stand in the way.

    I do not aknowledge this 🙂

    You need a smooch.
    The Naz were killable so you’ve never heard of me 🙂

  240. Joe it is a shame that some things are happening on this thread now. Is there some way to move some of the posts and put them in an archive – specifically BP – that kids; is your brain on drugs!

    Ghostcat I sincerely hope you do not have children – your line of thinking should end with you and hopefully will not be passed on. Your type of commentary could be applied to anyone and everyone who leaves their house.

    The facts are:
    The gate should have been closed and locked on that road. Vandals cut the lock and LE knew about it. If someone came into your yard and cut the lock on your gate to your swimming pool and a kid then came into your pool area and drown – is it the kids fault?

    The area where their car was should have been searched by Saturday – it was a series of mistakes by the people searching that kept them from the area. Those mistakes could have been avoided and are unacceptable because they are trained for this kind of thing.

    After six days of no food and watching your family in pain. What would you do? Ghostcat you probably would have blamed your wife for reading the map wrong and ate all the food to save your sorry ass.

    Yes James made mistakes and we can see that from hindsight but given his impossible decision, frame of mind, health condition he still tried to do whatever he could to save his family. During the entire ordeal he consistently committed selfless acts – that makes him a hero and he paid the ultimate price. A mistake doesn’t define the man what they do after is telling.

    The fact that resources not directly connected with SAR solved this doesn’t speak well for the approach SAR took. That should be obvious to anyone that has looked at the facts.

  241. Glenn, it always shocks me to read what some people will write on the internet–and I have never been able to figure out whether these people are stupid, mean, both–or just out to get on other reader’s nerves for kicks.

    However, I sure wish they would not contaminate this discussion– and I agree with your post.

  242. Glenn, ghostcat did not address Mr. Kim’s decision to leave the car. He spoke of the initial mistake by the Kim’s that resulted in getting them far enough up into the mountains.

    Yes SAR might have done a better job in hindsight but wayyyyy more of the responsibility lies with Mr Kim if you care to use hindsight as well. That being said I assume that most of us would have done about the same as Mr. Kim if we would have somehow found ourselves in his shoes after a week in the woods.

    It sort of looks like some of you might be overly emotionally invested in this unfortunate incident. What I like about Joe Duck’s board has been the focus on little details that you cannot find elsewhere.

  243. I’m a little surprised by everybody jumping on ghostcat. He wasn’t nasty about it, just pointed out that where we end up is usually a result of the decisions we make. James Kim chose:
    1. To not gas up his car leaving Roseburg
    2. To not double back and take 42, but instead..
    3. To take an unfamiliar mountain road at night in bad weather (his worst choice of the day)
    4. To continue driving late at night, while tired, in bad weather, on an unfamiliar road with aboslutely no sign of civilization…FOR 20+ MILES!

    My heart goes out to his family, but the pervasive attitude seems to be, as the policeman said, “Mr. Kim did nothing wrong.” In this day and age, we bend over backwards to remove personal responsibility and individual judgement from the equation, but it’s dishonest. Mr. Kim did many things wrong, starting with not turning back to 42 and ending with leaving a road to walk into a drainage ditch. His bad choices (along with the bad luck of having a lock missing from a gate that should have been closed) cost him his life and nearly killed his family. Sad, but true.

  244. Jake and Bill…

    None of that matters.

    The road should have been locked and gated. Period. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t fill up with gas, etc… you could argue they ate the wrong meal before they took that route because it didn’t have enough fat content, etc.

    I am assuming LE knew that lock had been cut. If so, that is a tragedy in itself.

    James Kim didn’t think he was going to be crossing a mountain road they way they did. He thought he was going on a major road. How is that a mistake? He had bad information and he followed it. As far as know whether the road is bad or not (tree scraping the car ,etc). His wife has reported they were in a blinding snowstorm. That in itself can be very confusing.

    This isn’t about re-directing responsibility, etc… it is about understand the facts so we can improve.

    James Kim did nothing wrong because:
    He had bad information, he made his choices on that information. Are they mistakes? Yes but they are not mistakes someone should be hung out to dry on.

    Did LE know the lock on the gate was removed? If so I think that is negligence. They locked the road for a reason. It was just last winter where another family almost lost there lives there and someone else did in 1995. This road and area should have been the focus on the search from the start. SAR definitely failed in this regard.

    The owner of Bear Lake Lodge told authorities he saw tire tracks on that road on the Friday before they were found. No one followed up. That is a total failure on LE and SAR.

    Private citizens had the information in this case, private citizens found the Kim’s – all of them. How can you explain that?

    And if someone dying for no good reason isn’t emotional to you then you definitely have some thinking to do.

    Everyone should take the time and read the article in the San Francisco Chronicle. That makes things that could have been different painfully clear.

    James Kim made mistakes…the sames mistakes most of us would make given the same information and scenario.

    However the mistakes that were made by people that were trained, etc…that is a whole different story.

  245. Also I want to make a point to people joining this now and may have been missed.

    Joe himself had been pleading through his contacts and this blog for authorities to specifically search the area literally right where Jim was ultimately found.

    Joe isn’t some magician (well Joe maybe you are) he followed the information that was available to everyone, he looked at the area and he came to his conclusions. Similar to the approach that other concerned citizens did (specifically the ones that actually found the Kim’s – all of them).

    How is it possible that so many people could figure this out before LE and SAR? Can anyone explain that?

  246. It is interesting that when an aircraft turns up missing, there are organizations in place to take the lead in gathering all relevant information and focusing search efforts in rational ways. And when a missing person is to be missing in a confined area, that trained SAR people take the lead.

    But when a car goes missing in inclement weather it’s much more hit-or-miss. The SF Chronicle article makes clear some people were working nearly round-the-clock to help, but others seemed to feel their responsibilities were quite limited. Perhaps they are even right about that, but at the very least they should have made clear to the family the limited nature of the search.

    From some of the early statements of some of the agencies, I was under the impression that much more extensive searches of places the Kims were most likely to have run in trouble were underway. I suspect that the family and friends who went up there were under a similar misapprehension.

    I couldn’t understand why the friends were reported in the paper out putting up flyers in the towns rather than out checking out roads were a car may have skidded down an embankment or gotten stuck in snow. I suspect the didn’t want to interfere with the official search they assumed were in progress.

  247. If I could pinpoint where they probably were (which I did prior to them being found) and if I could pinpoint where James Kim probably was (which I did prior to him being found) and I am not local and not trained then it makes NO since why these areas werent search earlier.
    The intelligent tactful thoughts posted here are what keeps this place useful. PLease keep it that way or find somewhere else to go.

  248. Here is a story from the Chronicle that explains why authorities don’t want to “blame” Kim. It could happen to anyone. It has happened, probably, to all of us in some form.


    I mean, come on, it’s not like Kim was driving drunk or driving up the mountain to his meth lab. His actions were pretty innocent.

    And ultimately, if he hadn’t made some innocent mistakes, we wouldn’t have anything to talk about. So of course the focus isn’t on him, but on what happened afterwards and how THAT could’ve been better.

    Without the emotional, the technical is also meaningless.

    Speaking of the emotional, I was doing a search on Kati Kim to see if she had made any statements. Ultimately she has a lot of information that would connect some dots for us, but who knows if we will ever hear it. Anyway, in searching her name, I came across her Yelp file–I guess she was an avid poster, and she had “reviewed” her husband (about a month before their saga) and given him five stars:

    One day you can be getting lattes in bed, and the next, waiting on a mountain while your husband dies of hyperthermia.

  249. Today’s SF Chronicle has a detailed article:


    Most disturbing part for me: the hotel the Kims stayed at in Portland not releasing their credit card info when requested by law enforcement. On orders from corporate HQ. Aiiii a nation of MBA-bedazzled sheep.

    – stan

  250. Glenn, did the road with the unlocked gate have anything to do with the salesman or the family in the RV?

  251. Im not the type to shift blame or deny individual responsibility being paramount. And to me, it is still not clear that the majority of the blame lies with Mr. Kim. Need more facts. At this point I’d tend to give most blame to the maps/mapmakers. Some of the supposed mistakes Mr. Kim made.

    -Not gasing up? How do you know that? If he left the Denny’s at 8 pm and stopped at 2 am, that means he had enough gas to drive 6 hours in mountain country then run the engine for 3 more days to stay warm. Sounds like a full tank to me. To suggest he was low on gas shortly after he left the interstate is an idiotic criticism.

    -travelling in winter? Winter doesnt begin for several more weeks. he got lost 2 weeks ago. Do the math.

    -taking an unfamiliar mountain road? 42 is also an unfamiliar mountain road for him. Why should he double back when his map shows an even shorter route? Several maps make no distinction between 42 and 23. What, he’s expected to have said “I can trust this map on 42 but its obviously wrong about 23”? No map, not google, mapquest or paper should give the same weight of line to forest service road 23 that they do a major state highway (42). Thats a blatant mistake–and that more than anything may have led to this tragedy. Mr. Kim wasnt sitting in a car near Grants pass looking over his options only to decide he was going to take a treacherous, windy, barely travelled, washed out, icy, boulder strewn nightmare of a road. He saw a road drawn in a line given equal weight to other major state highways. Why dont you pull out maps from around the nation and find other examples of a one lane forest service road given equal weight to State highways.

    -continuing to drive for miles at night in bad weather? My understandings is that when they came to the rocks on the road and the snow became heavier, they aborted their efforts to reach Gold Beach.

    -ignored the signs? Maybe. Or maybe he didnt see them in the dark. Given the number of people killed or lost here over the years, there is obviousy a MAJOR problem with the States signage. The Black Bar Lodge owner talked about how “countless” tourists end up at his lodge and he has to give them directions. Well, thats one hell of a detour from 23 and that tells me its very easy even the summer during daylight to end up on this logging road instead of 23.

  252. Various follow ups on recent info.

    –The SAR rescue effort. If a well regarded local tells you he’s seen one way tire tracks on a logging road where people commonly get lost and its on the way to Gold Beach, big blunder not to follow up.

    –Ive wondered all along why they didnt find him on Tuesday once they knew he’d gone down into the canyon. They had the whole day to search. Should have been multiple teams in there and apparently there were. One report had 26 searchers looking. But this doesnt add up. Lets assume its a 6 mile canyon from where he left the road. You put two people in a the top, two people in at the end and in the middle strech you drop off two 4 man teams. From the 4 man team, 2 head south, 2 head north. Thats 12 people total and nobody would have to cover more than 1 mile and would have over 7 hours of light to do so. So yes, I question why SAR didnt find him on Tuesday.

    –the car leaving 23 for a logging road. This is still the big sticking point for me and the only real blunder the family made that the average person would not have repeated. But if they didnt know they were leaving the main road, then thats different. Media has reported different things about this, none of which make sense. 1. They were looking for a place to turn around? You dont have to travel over 20 miles to find a place to turn around on a logging road. 2. They were trying to head downhill to get out of the snow? Well, following 23 back where they came from would have taken them down and out of the snow–and a 100% certainty back to civilization. So I still favor the explanation that they didnt realize they’d left the main road.

  253. I really appreciate all your good information. Can you provide or direct me to a map showing the precise auto route of the Kim family from the point where they left I-5 to the point where the car was found?

    Thank you very much.

  254. SAR rescue. I see that few people seem to disagree about how SAR should have searched the canyon. Given the sherrif’s comments that “we cant seem to get ahead of him” that suggests they were only working from one end of the canyon and didnt insert multiple teams at different points along the route. Im curious as to people’s reasoning why this wasnt a blunder on SARs part if indeed they didnt?

  255. One account said he was unable to turn around. Looking out the open door he backed out until he came to the intersection and then drove forward and down the road with the unlocked gate to get below snow level. It would have been difficult to u-turn in those conditions.

  256. Mel,
    I havent been on those exact logging roads, so cant know for sure. However, he should have been able to do a 3-point turn at the 23-logging road intersection if all he wanted to do was turn around. Barring that, the maps show other logging roads peeling off the one he was on. He should have been able to turn around there. If truly this is the reason and there was no place he felt safe turning around, then their luck was even more unbelievably bad than I’d thought.

  257. I think the owner was relating how close it was based on the reported position of the car. All those “intersections” out there look the same big time.

    If he had gone to his lodge and then driven to the cars spot he would have recognized that. In fact that is what I think happened and corrected his thought.

    Who knows…

  258. While I think Ghostcats empathy abilities and tone could definitely use some improvement, I think it is a mistake to dismiss him entirely because he has the audacity to be critical. He makes several valid points.

    There seems to be some perception that Bear Camp road resembles a two lane country road. It does not. It is a narrow, twisting, single lane road with turnouts. The signs warning of potential snow and perils in winter are quite large, bright yellow and placed at several intervals at elevations low enough that if you heed them, you stay out of trouble. It was raining, not snowing, at the points where they passed those signs according to Mrs. Kims accounts. He had to, reportedly, get out of the car several times to remove rocks from the road so he could continue. When carrying a 7 month old and a 4 year old it is a given that you should exercise more caution than you would when traveling alone or with just your wife.

    That detracts not at all from his later quite heroic & valiant efforts to save his family. He did everything humanely possible.

    Maps of that road clearly need to be improved and more appropriately marked. There will undoubtedly be more signs placed and they may even gate the road in winter, but anyone venturing onto Bear Camp would know very quickly that they were embarking on a primitive road.

    Regarding SAR and SAR criticisms – hopefully all this dialogue will lead to improvements in future efforts, but it easy for all participants on this blog, myself included, to be armchair quarterbacks. It is another matter altogether to be out in the wet and the cold working a search grid in perilous terrain and miserable weather, putting your own life on the line. As Spencer pointed out with the very pertinent Crater Lake example, finding someone in a wilderness is extremely difficult, more difficult than most of us can really appreciate. In the Crater Lake case searchers had the benefit of much more immediate notification. They blanketed the area with hundreds of searchers quickly. They never found the boy.

    It would be interesting to hear from actual search participants to get their viewpoints on some of the comments and suggestions in this blog. I suspect it would enlighten all of us.

  259. Roy, I wrote in comment #117 that two SAR teams should have been inserted mid-canyon (at mile 2.9 of the canyon, the canyon being 5.7 miles long), one heading upstream and one heading downstream.
    It takes only a single Blackhawk helicopter flight to drop off both teams (rappelling down).

    And that should have happened on Tuesday morning.

    In addition to that, of course, the main search party headng downstom thhe logging road and a SAR team heading upstream from the Rogue river.
    We have heard that the Rogue river team found Big Windy Creek impassable.
    Which means that the mid-canyon SAR team heading downstream would have encountered James’ body after 2.9-0.5=2.2 miles (on Tuesday afternoon).

    But by the timeline I posted in post #184, and by the coroner’s calculation, James died on Sunday afternoon, so inserting a SAR team mid-canyon on Tuesday morning would nothave affected the outcome of this tragic chain of events.

  260. Leaving the main road? That would be so easy for anybody unfamiliar with the area to do in the black of a stormy rainy / snowy night. I’m sure the Kims had no idea they left the main road, initially at least.

    Padlocks? We don’t live in a jail. This is a free country, still. People are free to come and go as they choose, not what big brother decides you do, not do. Ask the folks who have the lodges in the area, the people who hunt, the people who wish to enjoy the back roads with their ATV’s, snowmobiles, whatever …if they want those access roads barred?

    Surprised that private individuals were responsible for finding the Kims and the leadership of government agencies involved in the search botched it? Just another example of individual judgment, free enterprise in action. Clearly the pablum ‘he did nothing wrong’ statism leadership accomplished little worthwhile.

  261. Thanks for your comments Paul…I think everyone would agree that the people in the trenches worked their butts off in this situation and made the best decisions they could have possibly made.

    It also seems that SAR in that area has had a fairly good track record overall.

    I think the main issue here – today – is that there are new methods of gathering intelligence, local leads to be followed up, etc…

    I think LE and SAR would be reluctant at best to accept outside civilian help however I think that is where this can change. I think many of the people here want to try to do something to help for a future situation.

    I also think Sara Rubrecht, the emergency services coordinator with neighboring Josephine County may have made some serious errors that need to be reviewed. It seems she had information on Friday specifically where to look and she had the ability to direct that search to that area and she chose not to do it for whatever reason. I wasn’t there I don’t know but if it were followed up on they probably would have all been found on Saturday and alive.

    For those looking for more information on this check the SFGate article that was posted above. Specifically the owner of Black Bar Lodge left messages for her and actually ran into her out in the search and told her he saw fresh tire tracks and that he could not make it through the roads near his lodge and that is needed to be searched.

  262. Kim (post 301), I saw the CNN report with the Black Bar Lodge owner also. I remember him saying that his lodge was 5 miles away, not 1.5…I remember this distinctly, since his distnace estimate did not jive with the (at the time) estimate of 1.5 miles to the lodge that were floating around.

  263. A mistake is a real mistake if you do not learn from it. This is another reminder that we are responsible for our personal safety. But we are humans, we make mistakes. And even when we do everything right, things out of our control can go wrong. There is no way to stop this from ever happening again. So there will always be a need for SAR. SAR needs to have a national association with an excellent webpage to coordinate efforts, get additional help when needed, collect and distribute donations (from well mean armchair consultants, like ourselves, who in most cases if we actually showed up to help, would end up getting lost or hurt ourselves, compounding the problem). It’s understandable that no one was in charge at first, but let’s figure out a way to fix that next time. Really, they need a national association and to use the internet to their advantage. There needs to be a central place that can accumulate and distribute information.

  264. Greg (303)

    Yes it seems highly likely that Mr. Kim was already dead by the time rescuers knew he had gone into the canyon. So no rescue was possible at that point and any SAR mistakes occuring _after_ that point didnt contribute to his death.

    However, if SAR didnt insert multiple teams into that canyon, I’m still waiting for anyone to explain why that wasnt a major blunder or to successfully defend that decision. What if that had been the reason he wasnt found alive? What if similar poor decision making costs the life of the next person? (Assuming there were not teams dropped off along the way, I dont know this for a fact. Going on the sherrifs ” couldnt get aheaqd of him” comment there werent)

  265. I think a review back to Friday needs to be conducted. It seems very pertinent information was ignored or the ball dropped on Friday.

  266. ***UPDATE****

    Authorities are stating Mr. Kim actually traveled 16 miles, not 10 as originally reported. 16 miles in rough backcountry terrain shows how determined he was to find help for his family. There are all of these what if’s but the reality was the situation there were in and he did what he thought was the best option to save his family. Anyhow, just wanted to give an update on the facts of this unfortunate tragedy.

    What a determined, courageous father! James was a complete stranger to me,(I live in Los Angeles) and I can’t say enough about this courageous man who found himself and family in a dire situation

  267. just to address the posters who want to point out that james made mistakes.

    of course. we know that. But some of them are easy mistakes to make if your not familiar with the area and we have all seen the maps and how they can be interprented.

    anyway, that is moot point. I think most of us are interested in what happens after someone is lost (for whatever reason, no matter who they are, or how they got there). Everyone is vaulable, and every human life deserves to have people on the outside who care enough to see that they have a chance to live and regret those mistakes, to learn from them.

    We are all learning from this and I think good will come from it. But I could never ever say someone doesn’t deserve to have a full scale SAR effort because they made what seemed to be a stupid mistake. Now kati is without her husband and her daughters lost their father. I would have rather seen Mr. Kim make it out and have to be embarassed, though thankful to be alive for them.

    I would be embarssed…but too relieved to care for awhile. I can only imagine that he was humbled well enough before he died. he didn’t need to die.

  268. Roy, where you mentioned in Post #294 about the amount of gas, I’ve been thinking the same thing every time someone mentions it – I haven’t done all the math on how much gas would be used based on the exact car and all of that, but I do know that 5-6 hours driving pretty much uses up a good portion of a full tank of gas in any of the cars I’ve driven, even just in regular conditions. Add that the car still had some gas and was able to run for heat off and on for a few days, and I’m not convinced that they were all that low on gas when they left Grants Pass. Pure speculation here, but even if they filled up in Roseburg before leaving around 9PM, an hour later around 10PM reaching Grants Pass they would not have needed to fill up, still having a fair amount of gas and obviously not expecting that they would still be driving and in such extreme conditions 4 hours later, which is about when they stopped at 2AM (and still had some gas). Yes, it makes perfect sense that they were running low on gas by the time they were so helplessly lost and stopped for the night, but no, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t have a close to full tank headed into trouble. Again, I’m no expert, just speculating.

    I’ve been lurking here for days not wanting to muddy this thing up and instead let it continue to be the best place I’ve found for mostly just good information and detailed thoughts, but this I thought was worth considering. Thank you all for your insight. Something about all of the details just won’t get out of my head – much to think about.

  269. 1. Wednesday: Detective Mike Weinstein of the Portland police missing persons detail was out sick. So the Portland search did not even start until the next day. How can there not be someone assigned to handle Mike Weinstein’s responsibilities when he is not there? Especially since he heads a missing persons department.
    2. Thursday, a Portland hotel refuses to cooperate. And Weinstein can’t make them cooperate and protects their identity?
    3. Friday: Sara Rubrecht’s deputies from Josephine county, drive past the fork where the logging road takes off to the right. The logging road that is supposed to be gated and locked and is not. The logging road that the reason it is gated and locked is because its COMMON for travelers to take that wrong turn. So did those deputies not check the gate? Did they see it was vandalized and open and not report it? Did they report it and no action was taken?
    4. Friday: Sara Rubrecht is told, in person, by the owner of the Black Bar Lodge that he had seen tire tracks on that logging road and hadn’t been able to follow them in his snowmobile once he hit bare ground. She took no action?
    5. Friday: John Rachor, the private pilot that finally located Kati and the girls, also thought they’d turn off on that logging road, a very common mistake, but didn’t go looking that day because authorities said they’d cleared that road.
    6. Sunday: John Rachor decides to go look anyway, sees the tire marks in the snow, they had not cleared that road, but he is running low on fuel and has to go back. Did he tell any authority? Did they ignore him as well?
    7. Sunday: Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Rowland said his crews asked about the back logging road, but were told — incorrectly — that the owner of the Black Bar Lodge had “cleared” it himself. Who told him that? Shouldn’t there be some way to verify what’s been cleared and what hasn’t?

    I realize that many of the above “facts” can be wrong, they came from the media. But Weinstein and Rubrecht are not hard working volunteers, they are paid public professions. I think its reasonable to expect answers.

  270. Susan you pretty well summed up the issues…pretty sad actually. If you get lost in Oregon you have a wealthy family or your not going to be found.

  271. Hello again – I’m back from a short trip and have a lot of reading to do to catch up! Would people prefer it if I moved this to a threaded forum or just leave it like this – a string of comments?

  272. Hey Joe…welcome back. Whichever you like…threaded seems to be better…some are mentioning the previous message with parens…I keep forgetting to.

  273. I am convinced that the Kim’s thought they were on the correct road when they got lost. The state DOT map they had with them (link at post #150) does not list any route numbers for the road from Galice to Gold Beach, even though it changes numeric names from a BLM road to a Forest Service (FS) road at the major fork where the “mistake” was made, not to mention taking on the alias name “Bear Camp Road” that includes all the numeric name variations. No wonder Kati said in an interview with authorities that “…the route seemed confusing.”

    According to Google Maps/Google Earth, the road they left on from Galice to Gold Beach was BLM 34-8-36. The road on which the car eventually came to rest in the Rogue Wilderness was BLM 34-8-36. At that critical intersection, they may have initially taken the “correct” route (FS 23,) only to find it impassible and possibly questioning if they had made the correct decision to veer off the road name they had left Galice on. In addition to this, Google Earth labels BLM 34-8-36 as “Bear Camp Road” at the initial fork. Talk about confusing.

    At first, I could not understand why the Kim’s would have continued winding so wildly for so long on the logging road without considering they had made a major mistake at the fork and should stop and turn around. Then I examined the stretch from Galice to the initial fork – it looks as winding and treacherous as any of the logging roads off Bear Camp, or worse! They may have simply accepted by that time that the route would be that primitive.

    I think the family may have thought they made a mistake when they initially took the “correct” route veering left onto FS 23 and found it impassable. When James began his trek out on foot, I wonder if he thought they were on the road they should have been on.

    Can anyone out there tell me if the BLM roads in the area the Kim’s were stranded are marked with signs that indicate the route number? If so, I am visualizing James looking at a sign near where they are stranded that says BLM-34-8-36, remembering that as the same road they left Galice on. His Oregon DOT map would not have provided any route numbers to even go by.

  274. I wonder how many of the National Guard resources were used. It sounds like one National Guard helicopter was used. There are currently a lot of NG resources in Iraq and I wonder how that hinders SAR efforts all over the country.

    On a broader level, I have to disagree with the posts above arguing that personal responsibility is paramount and the fact a “private” helicopter pilot found the car proves that “the market” works better than government. SAR and disaster preparedness is an area where we need the government to have a lead role. If we had simply a “market” and volunteer based SAR system, obviously pretty much only the rich will be saved. I know from the “statist” comment above that some people have a theoretical belief that all government is bad (where do people get these anti-statist ideas? I go to a college football forum and the craziest guy on there is constantly calling people statists). But really, it seems pretty ridiculous to let SAR and other isaster preparation to the market. Like the comment above arguing that the gate to the BLM roads should be open and basically arguing that yeah, some people would die, but hey, it’s statist to help people and personal responsibility is more important. That seems so extreme to me and puts ideology over practical actions. Obviously the signs and route on Black Bear Road are confusing and I for one want the government to fix the problem so fewer people die.

  275. Troy, I think you have the best explanation so far. I thought the same thing. It looks to me like Bear Creek Rd. was pretty bad so he probably thought that the correct road was supposed to be bad.

    Also, on the CNN interview with the Black Bar Lodge owner, they did indeed see road signs. But the simply had the BLM road number on them. So I think you might be right, that they thought they were on the right road and stayed on the same BLM road. But I do remember someone upthread noting that it ends somewhere in. Have to doublecheck that.

  276. I think post #316 is a gross oversimplification of a very complex situation and an insult to all those SAR volunteers who worked so hard to try to find James Kim. Much of the dialogue here has been focused on improving the process, that seems more far constructive.

  277. Troy, the government is responsible for the logging roads…they should be responsible for the safety of the people on them within reason.

    If the forestry service can’t be bothered to post easily visible signs, and maintain barriers..then screw ’em. I don’t give a flying rat’s behind if a few people can’t take out their snowmobiles or not.

    It’s not a “nanny state,” it’s a responsible state.

    Your post was right on

  278. Is there a way to get portable cell towers in remote areas? Most people these days have cell phones with them. I’m sure they tried using their phones to call for help right away when they realized they were in trouble. It seems that if there was a way to move a portable cell tower into an area where it seems someone might be lost, it could save a whole lot on time and manpower.

  279. It looks to me like they stuck on 34-8-36 until it ended. 34-8-36 looks like it ends shortly before the intersection where they stopped. Then it turns into another BLM road. Maybe at the intersection all three roads had different sign numbers than 34-8-36. Also, Bear Creek Rd. is 34-8-36 before it turns into NF-23 so I think they may have followed that road, thinking it was the right road.

  280. Joe, however you do it (317) please keep it going. Thanks for all the info and insight. And hopefully things aren’t too offensive to a grieving family….

  281. While it is frustrating to me that it seems like some of the agencies waited too long to start looking and there were various mistakes made (I really dont know as I wasn’t there) I know from working in government that it is frustrating to deal with the public who dont always understand you are doing your best and your not a corrupt criminal just taking their tax dollars. I also know sometimes that jurisdictional things can cause unnecessary time to be wasted, and sometimes, esepcially fire and police personnel do not want help and can be very territorial – and often do work in a bubble.

    I Would only like to see, government and SAR excepting more help from professional volunteers, or a way for volunteers to work side by side with government. I know for a fact that the fire department in my town has no clue what GIS is, I know they use old paper maps every time a new call comes in. There are resources out there that the SAR is not always tapping, and in emergency situations like this, if people want to help I hope there is going to be a way that they can help, especially if the county can’t afford a lot of extras. they need help….and should not be embarassed to except some.

    Unlike you all I dont have a good grasp of how it would work, but I see a lot of potential with the internet, caring people, and high-tech professionals who just want to offer assistance to counties and municipalities that dont have the budget for the kind of gadgets and intelligence that is out there. Alot of us that are stuck behind a desk working on projects might welcome the break to work on something that could save-a-life.

  282. Elaine,
    They did bring a portable cell tower into the area. Actually, I don’t know if it actually happened. They were bringing it on Wednesday, I think. But yes, it now seems like a good idea to have portable towers ready for these situations. And it would probably be good idea to have a car charger for your cellphone in your car. I don’t know if James was using one, but he could have been charging his phone when starting the car. Then when walking he may have got another ping.

  283. (322)
    I don’t think anyone is reflecting their criticism toward anyone on the ground doing their job and certainly not the volunteers.

    There were serious mistakes made by the paid professionals and they should held accountable – it could cost somebody else their life in the future.

    The process cannot improve unless all aspects are reviewed good or bad.

    Paid professionals should be held accountable for their bad decisions.

  284. (327)
    Mapper the way it is going to have to happen is we are going to have to create an internet based resource that summon up the power of volunteers all over the world and provide an intell resource for people with local knowledge – sooner or later once more people are found more quickly by locals that want to help as opposed to LE they will have to take down their barriers.

    I really don’t see it happening any other way. LE doesn’t want “interference” from civilians…you and I both know it.

    But as we have seen with this blog and others there is really good information to tap into that came make a difference. A lot of the decisions Mr. Kim to bring together resources was a result of the many great suggestions sent into the family’s website. If that hadn’t happened – who knows what would have happened.

    Thank God for Mr. Kim being proactive.

  285. I was thinking again about the satellite that was going to overfly and photograph the area on Monday. If there had been any way to do that earlier, say Friday or Saturday, it seems the chances are good that the car might well have been quickly found.

    The next time a car disappears in the mountains it seems worthwhile to try.

  286. Hey guys,
    My name is tara. Im from texas and will be visiting Oregon soon. If you hear in the news a texas gal named tara is missing presumed lost in the wilderness, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE dont leave my rescue up to the government agencies. Come find me. Please. Thanks.
    I think there are alot of brilliant talented people in this world that arent utilized as they should be…. (i.e. all the private citizens who helped ANYWAY in spite of being told incorrect information or told not to help (and yes I realize not every person can help) but locals with helicopters and local lodge owners should be counted in.. in my humble opinion.
    So, those of you who want to start a forum to help SAR operations, dont let your enthusiasm fizzle out over time. Think about James, The man who froze in his truck, the little autistic boy STILL LOST, and do everything in your power to help.
    One man made a call and got A SATELITTE company to pitch in.
    I will help in any way possible.
    This forum has been great to find ways to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

  287. (322)
    Paul I should be more specific.

    If a person in charge was told multiple times to search an area because they had strong evidence that someone had traveled there. And that person in charge either ignored, dismissed or otherwise did not act on those relevant facts – does anyone disagree that was a mistake?

    The situation in question could have led to the discovery of the Kim’s as early as Saturday.

  288. Jason, I had heard that they were going to bring a portable cell tower into the area on wednesday but I don’t know how hard that is or how expensive. But given the fact that so many people do have cell phones with them it does seem that that would be a first priority in times like this. I know if any of my kids and/or their families were missing, I would sure be trying to contact them by their cell phones.

    Also this summer we were traveling through a remote part of a California desert, driving a rental car that was having some problems. We were not sure that the car was going to make it back to Las Vegas, where we had rented it. There was not much cell phone signal along that route. Our daughter and her family were following behind us, but if we would have had trouble we would have had to unload all their stuff just to make room for us to ride to somewhere where we could have called for help. We were fortunate that we were not alone. But the temps were over 115 degrees. We could not have walked far.

    So I’m just saying that something like a portable tower that would be moved into an area where someone was lost rather quickly upon realizing that they were lost in an area could really help out. It seems like a good place to start in this day and age of technology.

  289. I think they made the correct turn, realized it wasn’t drivable, backed up, and drove forward and down to the rain. This squares with sfgate’s report of what she said.
    The sign at the intersection is clear and readable even in the snow. They could have easily determined the correct way when they paused at the intersection on the way in and after they backed out.

  290. (334)
    Elaine last time I deployed a COW (cell on wheels) it ran about $15k. They work very well and are typically carrier specific. That was two years ago so I am not sure if the cost has gone down.

    I think a better solution would be the deployment of wiMax towers into the area on a permanant basis. They could be activated and powered on in emergency situations.

    Cellphones are soon to include VOIP capability as well so they would tap in the high-bandwidth of wiMax. In addition SAR could utilize through a high-speed mobile network to send and receive information. I am sure there are other forestry activities that could benefit too.

    In an area like that wiMax tower would cover about 65 sq miles at a cost of less than $10k per installation.

    Of course anyone stranded with a wifi PDA or laptop could tap into the internet and if they had GPS, etc…

    In any event it could change the battlefield in many ways – all of which are good.

  291. lol tara. I understand how you feel. I just decided against an upcoming road trip and am now taking an amtrak trip! 🙂 I’ll make sure to look out for your name in the news!

    Glenn, I have to admit, though I hate to place blame. My gut feeling is that not one, but several agencies waited too long to start looking, or not looking hard enough. In one of the articles I read, the author artfully portrayed Brian Anderson this way without outright saying it. There were images( figurative) of him eating his evening meals, watching football games and sleeping at night while we imagine the family still sitting in the car along the icy logging road.

    Its so very hard though for me to understand what really happened. I have not really looked tpo deep into that angle of it all, its only my impression of what happened. It seems like some valuable time was wasted, but yet no one really knew where they were (I am guessing that is the main defense).

    The situation you outlined, with people in charge not looking into credible leads of where they might be, early on…is upsetting indeed and yes I do agree it should be reviewed and explained.

    There is a lot to try to understand here.

  292. Glenn – we know Edge deployed a COW or COLT to assist with the search once a 100 folks were up there every day. Getting any wireless service up there permanently is an admirable cause but who foots the bill for it? I don’t think any cell provider will do it, I don’t think Josephine County can afford it.

    With Bear Camp Rd, I really have started to think it should be gated in the winter. McKenzie Pass in the Cascades is only about 800 feet higher at the summit but doesn’t get any more snow and doesn’t have the maze of side roads.. It is gated and closed from early November until mid-late may every year. Snowmobiles & Cross Country Skiers can still go up there. Why is Bear Camp Rd different? Hunting season ended on 11/1. No one lives beyond the BLM line. There is a gate on the west side the frequently closes. The DOT maps very clearly says the road is closed in Winter. Why no gate?

    I don’t want to get into an argument about personal responsibility. There is precedent for closing roads that are dangerous in winter. I completely agree that people are responsible for their actions and the consequences, but gawd.. Cut them off at the pass (or before they get there) to prevent deadly mistakes.

  293. First, my sympathy to the Kim family and their friends. My praise to the calm, measured, respectful thoughts on this blog to date. Many are inspiring sentiments. I am a grandparent watching from Virginia. I saw James’ CNET videos, what a sharp, engaging young man.

    I wonder if their car radio or other devices could receive local radio news perhaps at the top of the hour (daytime or in the night with better reception). At some point (Saturday or at least by Sunday) the news must have been saturated with this story. Is the Saab’s final position within range of any local AM/FM radio stations? When were radio broadcasts used to let the family know help was on the way?

    Also how far is the vandalized gate from the fork in the road ….made by Bear Camp Road and the BLM road to the Lodge? I saw a news video that showed this was a sturdy, yellow, single or maybe double pole steel gate across the width of the road. I am trying to find some rationale as to why that wouldn’t have been checked. I do see from Google Earth the maze of roads.

    Thanks to Joe and others for their efforts on this blog. As you all may know, CNN has an hour devoted to this tragedy on Monday night–Paula Zahn.

  294. Glenn:

    RE: “There were serious mistakes made by the paid professionals…” That is what bothers me about the tone of so many of the posts casting aspersions on the SAR folks: presumptive guilt. It APPEARS there were mistakes made, certainly, but in fairness to the paid professionals, they have not yet weighed in on this blog with their version of events and/or explanations for all the various alleged misdeeds & mistakes. How many times have we heard one side of a major news event, especially through the eyes of the media and news agencies, and later found out there was another side that cast events in a completely different light ?? How many people posting on this blog have ever participated, coordinated, or headed up, a major search and rescue operation ?? We are armchair experts discussing and speculating, nothing more. That does not mean our speculations are worthless, but due process, and a fair and equal hearing of the facts, are crucial to conclusions and recommendations that truly have merit.

  295. Talk about shifting responsibility…I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of shifting over the next while from those in charge. It is quite apparent now they were way too lax in the beginning…They should’ve been walking around with a lump in their throat worried about whether a family of four was going to die in their county and doing everything possible to make sure it didn’t happen. And I’m not talking about the volunteers on the ground, obviously their efforts were heroic. But it shouldn’t have ever gotten that far. And as far as expense…isn’t it cheaper to do a thorough search in the beginning and basically tow a car out as opposed to what ended up happening?

  296. RE: Post 339 – closing the road is long overdue, and McKenzie Pass is an excellent analogy. The guy who starved near the summit in ’95; the family found last year in the camper; now this ??….I still maintain the road is well and thoroughly signed, but this event and others clearly show folks don’t heed the warnings. Gate it, lock it, and use a lock robust enough that your garden variety vandal can’t cut it.

  297. Hey Spencer,

    I believe I heard they deployed a COLT. They would probably need a truck based solution (own power, etc) for that type of area. I am not sure how much they cost to deploy.

    I also want to make it very clear that I am not trying to take any shots at SAR. I know how hard they work – I am only trying to bring to light details that are coming forth from multiple sources – and yes many of them are media – so they could definitely be wrong. I was previously a fireman (EMT) and CAP. I was on the diving recovery team – so unfortunately most of the things I worked on were recovery – and a fast cold river is as hairy as it can get. It is also one job that you don’t want to do for very long.

    In any event, I have great respect for the people in the trenches and those that work tirelessly however I do now they are very territorial and that typically slows and hinders progress.

    The mistakes if they were made need to be looked at closely.

    And yes I fully agree the road should be closed during the winter and the maps should be updated appropriately. Obviously the current approach isn’t as effective as it needs to be.

  298. Joe, thanks for posting the new pics. What a difference between them! The first from Google Earth, taken from hundreds of miles up, and the second, taken from a helicopter perhaps 2000′ up.

  299. Joe, BP,

    Please note except for the first page image that was recently added – the layoutscene graphics do not have the updated car position on them.

    They really are great to get perspective, etc…and I hope they update all the images.

  300. I have put a depiction of James’ desperate 16 mile march onto a dedicated server.

    Joe, feel free to put this image into your blog.
    I noticed you have removed your original image.

  301. Distances (as the crow flies) are:
    Car to Black Bar Lodge … 3.2 miles
    Location of body to Black Bar Lodge … 0.9 miles
    Location of body to car … 4.0 miles

  302. I don’t want the road closed. The guy that came from the coast in 95 had clear road a couple of hundred feet in front of him. He did nothing to help himself. He sat in his truck writing how this is totally in God’s hands. He committed suicide. That’s the way I remember it. The RV was on the other side of the river. There was involvement with meth and they walked out to help.

    I hope this isn’t do something disease. Will anybody feel a little bit better about all this because they did something. We got that road closed.

    How about larger signs that say road closed but there is room to drive around? We shouldn’t close roads where it is possible for someone to get in trouble.

  303. I’ve traced the route again myself in Google Earth using the key locations previously posted and extended it to the corrected location of the car. Slightly different orientation from others posted. May need to click on it again once you open it to make it full size.

    It sounds like they do know how the Kims got to that location as drawn, but I did also find another way of getting there if approaching from the other direction as well while I was just toying around with the roads up there.

    Anyway, here’s the link:

  304. Thanks from this new poster to Joe and everyone else for a terrific series of thoughts on what happened to the Kims and what might have happened differently. My heart weeps over the bittersweet ending and the missteps leading to it.

    (Although we are from Eugene and don’t know the area well, my wife and I drove to Agness from Gold Beach on a recent warm and sunny September day. We saw the sign for the turnoff (Forest Route 23) to Galice. I remember thinking, this is rugged country and I don’t think I’d want to a forest service road for 50+ miles as a shortcut to Interstate-5, even during the day in good weather!)

    (I am reminded of the he 1949 Mann Gulch Fire in Montana and the 1994 South Canyon Fire in Colorado, which killed several of the Prineville Hot Shots, and the chronicles written by father and son Norman and John Maclean. In those fires, as with the Kims, small decisions that might not have meant much at the time later are seen to have been critical. And at some point, one is in a place and time where nature and circumstance overwhelms and there is perhaps no way out alive.)

    Thus like Mel (#335), Jason (#325) and Troy (#319), I am also interested in what might have happened at the critical fork where the “main” road changes names from BLM 34-8-36 to FR 23 and where the gate for the side road BLM 34-8-36 was vandalized and open. While one can second guess mistakes up to this point, it seems with the benefit of hindsight that the decision the Kims made at this point sealed their fate. I have several questions:

    1) Is there, in fact, a clear sign at this intersection that indicates that the left fork leads to Agness and ultimately to Gold Beach while the right fork leads nowhere?

    2) Given that the Kims drove many miles past this intersection on BLM 34-8-36, is it possible that had they taking the correct (left) fork, they could have driven far enough to Agness to have been out of harm’s way? Or did rocks on Forest Road 23, higher elevations, increasing snow make this route impassable by the time they got there, regardless of whether they knew the right way to go or not?

    3) Assuming the Kims knew that Forest Route 23 was the correct way but found it impassable, what were their viable options at that point? Is there enough space to make a 3-point turn at that intersection? The newspaper reports indicate that it had started snowing and they drove to a lower elevation to escape the rain. If they had retraced their steps towards Merlin from this intersection, would they have gained or lost elevation, hence been more likely to encounter more or less snow?

    4) Assuming Forest Route 23 was impassable beyond this intersection, what might have happened if the gate hadn’t been vandalized but rather had been locked, leaving only the choice to stay put or perhaps turn around?

    In brief, I am interested in reconstructing what the Kims knew or likely knew at this intersection, and in what their viable options were regardless of what they knew.

  305. Mel – I’m totally cool with your opinion and am not provoking an argument, but I’d like to here you flesh out your opinion. Why shouldn’t the road be gated? What benefit is there for keeping the road open? Is there some group that has a need for access in winter I don’t know of? There are a half dozen other more significant roads in the state that are gated in winter – should these be ungated? I used McKenzie Pass as an example, but there are many more. Cascade Lakes Highway, the Crater Lake Rim Rd, Dooley Mountain, Three Creeks Rd. Happy Camp Rd (between Cave Junction & Happy Camp, Ca) isn’t far from Bear Camp and is gated as well.

    Bear in mind, Bear Camp Rd IS CLOSED in winter per ODOT. People who need or want access into the wilderness in Winter would still be able to get in if there is a gate. There is a huge network of ungated side roads that they can take and get back to Bear Camp on the other side of the gate. Just like elsewhere in the state, Skiers and Snowmobiles could get in. There are gates Sonora & Tioga Pass in the Sierra Nevada for a reason.

  306. 1) Clear as a bell IF you are paying attention. The road curves there to the right. If you are talking to someone and going 25mph you could drive right by it. I’m sure at that part of their journey they were driving slowly and watching. There is a large sign with a smaller one of a different color(yellow?) beneath it. Even in the snow they could see it. The intersection could be improved.

    2)I think they drove a very short distance and realized there was no way. I doubt a local with four wheel drive and chains would have made it but I’m just speculating.

    3)She said they were backing up, while looking out the open door. When they reached the intersection, I’m guessing he wasn’t eager to try a turn. A number of times I have been very concerned how I turned around on back country roads. It’s easy to screw up. He must of been VERY concerned at that point. She also said they thought they could drive down below the snow level and try it in the morning. She also said they were low on gas. When they saw that good road in front of them; a road that heads downhill to my memory more than the road behind them; it was logical to take it. They did reach the rain but in the morning they were snowed in. I’d like to know if they had to drive as far as they did to get out of the snow.

    4) They would have been OK if they would have stopped at the intersection. Did it snow enough there to bury them? I don’t think so.

    This is guess work based on news reports already shown to be in error.

  307. RobZ –

    Question 1 – The intersection of the FS & BLM road are clearly marked. People miss the turn all the time – if this is the intersection I am thinking of, there is actually a sign that says “WRONG WAY.” I’m tempted to go do a bike ride up there this spring just to take a critical look at the place.

    Question 2 – The Kims drove 25-26 miles down the BLM road after leaving the correct path. They didn’t drive far enough for Agness to be out of harms way though. They were moving away from Galice, but getting farther from Agness as well because they were so far North. There is no EASY way to get to Agness on those BLM & FS backroads other than Bear Camp.

    Question 3 – We don’t know the conditions at the intersection, I’ll say that a competent driver can make turn around on these roads even without the intersection. On Monday 11/27, I drove up Anderson Butte Rd near Medford & Talent. I was looking for a place nearby to test out my new snowshoes. This is a 1 lane paved BLM road not dissimilar from Bear Camp – actually Anderson Butte Rd is steeper. This was the only day it snowed in the Rogue Valley. (I believe Joe has a photo gallery of snow in Talent that day) I got to about 3,300 feet in elevation and the road got too icy. It was tricky, but I was able to turn around in my 2wd Mazda sedan without needing a wide spot in the road. I’m not criticizing the Kims, I don’t know what their conditions were. The intersection in question is at 3,500 feet – they stopped at 2,400 feet. Going back would have brought them back into the snow.

    Question 4 – I don’t think we can answer this. I would hope that if they found 23 impassible and 34-8-36 gated, they would have gone back to Galice. Honestly, given the fact that they went 25 miles down the BLM road and somehow thought they were only 4-5 miles from Galice… I don’t think we’ll ever know what they would have done.

  308. Padlocked gates on public back roads are a bad idea.

    It amazes me how willing many people are wishing to control what choices others may want to make.

    Hunters, lodge owners, kyakers, others, use those roads. I do too. And I don’t want some bureaucrat deciding that I won’t.

  309. 3)There is plenty of room at the intersection to make a turn. In those conditions, considering what his state of mind must of been, I see him choosing the downhill road in front of the car.

  310. Kip just spoke for me, too. Four wheel drive trucks enable people to be in wonderful country. Back country in the winter is spectacular. The Forest Service has been closing roads in recent years. It’s a real loss.

  311. The “wanted to go downhill” argument seems implausibe. His visibity was probably 25 yards or so. No way he could have known it was a downhill road. I doubt very much he could tell it went downhill. But even if he did see that it sloped almost impercibitibly downward from the intersection, he wouldnt have known whether it would start to climb steeply 100 yards further…or around the next bend. On the other hand, he knew for sure staying on the road he came in on led down and to safety.

    The “didnt know they werent on the main road” school of thought seems more likely.

  312. Someone asked about radio reception in the area. That is an interesting question. All of the times I was in the area I never checked. They did run down the battery in the car.

  313. Why not just have unlocked gates with a sign asking people to close the gate behind them? Most people would cooperate. Would let the recreation people get where they want but also be an unmistakable warning to the unwary.

  314. I agree with the majority of you. Those roads need better signage, especially the logging roads. This should be a requirement for those digging out the roads. Write your congressmen – especially those of you in Oregon – you can make at least that much happen.

    More nagging in my mind is that the SAR effort was a bungled mess from the beginning. I am starting to feel angry at the lack of facts, and at the inconsistent information being fed through the press, which continues to this day. Yes, SAR tried their best and all that, but, throughout the ordeal I couldn’t help but feel that more should have been done, up to the very end. If we could get some accurate facts then you all will have a better chance at coming up with some ways to improve future SAR efforts.

    Foremost in my mind (and believe me, there are alot of questions) is that last Tuesday night SAR was WAY too close to finding James to give up that evening. Whose decision was it to end the SAR Tuesday at 4pm, given they were admittedly hours from finding James? Why was that decision made? I feel that, tragically, he might have been left in the canyon there to die on Tuesday evening, and somebody needs to take accountability for that. (this is even more probable given the extra 5-6 miles he walked per the recent report. I would like to see Greg’s thoughts (post #184) on a time line based on the new info)

    I wonder why the coroner was so deceivingly vague about James’ time of death. Even given the temps and the physical exerstion that James went through, a competent examiner should be able to estimate an accurate t.o.d within a window of less than 48 hours. Was there some collusion to misrepresent the facts around his death between the examiner and the local offices responsible for SAR?? This needs to be investigated.

    Two other reports haunt me – one that says the clothes that James left in a pattern were NOT there on Monday. That means James was alive on Tuesday. Combine this information with the report from one of the SWAT team members that James appeared to be dead only hours, with the fact that SAR closed shop on Tuesday at 4pm. If I recall the 4pm Anderson press conference from Tuesday, he said in the same breath that they thought he was alive and that they were pulling the rescuers out at 4pm. They stayed the night in the canyon on Monday night, why didn’t they continue to search Tuesday through the night? Draw your own conclusions.

    My feelings don’t stem from morbid curiousity, but from the nagging sense of a rescue mission fallen way too short and a subsequent cover-up here.

  315. I recall a downhill grade turning right past the intersection. The road is better than the one they were backing out of. Twenty-five yard visibility would show uphill behind-downhill in front.

  316. I recall a downhill grade turning right past the intersection. The road is better than the one they were backing out of. Twenty-five yard visibility would show uphill behind-downhill in front.

    I don’t think they missed the intersection. Their pulse-rate was probably up and their eyes wide-open. Driving slowly, too.

  317. Every answer to my “Why no gate” question has been vague, non specific (I was tempted to use stronger adjectives but I won’t) I’m not closed minded and I’m not stupid enough to be convinced that my opinion is the only valid one, I just want to hear a well defined explanation of why there shouldn’t be a gate. I’m not a person that believes everything on public land needs to be controlled by government and I am also someone who recreates outdoors in winter.

    There are several already defined limits – hunters shouldn’t be out there after the end of hunting season (November 1st this year.) If I’m not mistaken, the Wild & Scenic section of the Rogue requires a permit and can only be run thru mid-October. McKenzie, Cascade Lakes and other closed & unplowed roads is just for this sort of reason are gated – do you advocate the removal or non use of these? There is also gate at the west end of FS-23 – this is frequently closed in bad winters.

    As I’ve said, there are other ways to get out there. People who have the means and desire to navigate these roads in winter will have access to the network of BLM and FS roads that get them there. Bear Camp Rd is – in relative terms – a major road but it’s not maintained for winter travel and is closed. Without a gate, this road clearly presents a viable route for those unfamiliar with it. In my mind, putting a gate on a public road that the BLM or FS deems unsafe enough in winter to call “closed” makes sense.

  318. My earlier post was NOT anit SAR – we need SAR and they preform a vaulable service. And also not to say they aren’t above making mistakes – my statment meant – this is the job they are supposed to do, this is a KNOWN area where people get lost, regardless of how many signs there are posted – it seems like there was a lot lacking from whom this is their job. I am very aware this is rough rugged terrain. I grew up in such an area and when I was growing up, if a search needed to be conducted, the authories always took into account the info given to them by the locals, which this info seems to have been ignored. Also, not saying the authories didn’t work very hard, but there seems to be a lot of lag and mistakes that shouldn’t have happened for an agency whose job this is. The post by Susan basically states what my questions are.

  319. Joe, Once again – Thank you for the space to air out this discussion. I understand the frustration in analysis with the limited information this is released to the public about this whole sequence of events and have a few comments to add to those above:

    1. I do support individual rights and the idea that someone might want the lower safer route to some beautiful winter backcountry to snowshoe, ski, etc.

    2. The search being focused first on the FS – 23 or ‘correct’ road does make sense (though not in hindsight of course). What would we be saying if they had stayed on the FS – 23 and slid off further up the road. YES, many make the turnoff into the ‘maze’ and YES, there was information that it needed to be searched – and YES, it was a mistake to not listen to the report from the Black Bar Lodger owner. However there were also incorrect reports including someone claiming they talked to the Kim’s in a town on the coast over the weekend. Granted the Lodge owner was a much more reliable witness – still there is TONS of information – good and bad that gets called in on this scenarios – quite a lot of data to analyze.

    3. As long as we are considering the what if scenario. I keep thinking – What if the missing report had been turned in on Sunday or Monday instead of Wednesday.

    So here’s my thought of personal responsibility and something we all can start doing. For me it’s In Honor of the James and his Family. We all know to communicate our route with someone, and many of us blow that off – plus we make changes in our routes etc. – it’s human nature. What if we had a travel buddy – someone whom we agree to contact at specific intervals – like when we arrive at a destination (such as the resort on the river). It could just be a text message “Arrived at . . ” Or if we see that we are headed into a snow storm a quick text to update on info. Or a message to say, headed into this wildnerness area, at this point – expect me back on x date. Just more communication when traveling, could help expediate the timing so very much; and give SAR more info than any of us analyzing data from afar could ever hope to provide. YES, it’s a hassle, but a few minutes could be invaluable if events turn bad.

    One more thing I did this week as a result of this is order the cell phone rechargers that don’t need the car battery. I know when I get in the mountains my phone switches to analog and the battery life is greatly reduced, sometimes to just hours.

    Of course an emergency box in your car is also a critical must, I updated mine with a few new things this week too.

  320. If the road is to remain open then local officials need to fund adequate resources to mount a proper search when someone makes a mistake and heads down those roads.

    Either way there is no excuse for someone dying for being stranded on a road. We are talking about people being stranded for days, weeks and even months.

    They need to put the proper equipment in place to search all of those roads.

  321. I really think that they went right when they should have gone left at the main fork of FS23 and the BLM network. I’m thinking all of the other sketchy details (looking out side of car, moving rocks, backing up, turning around to get below the snow line, etc.) happened somewhere in the BLM network. It just doesn’t make sense that they would have passed that fork correctly, backtracked to it, and then taken the BLM side of it. (I’m also not sure Kati knows or will ever know exactly where they were and when they did what.)

    Having said that, I’m wondering if the BLM network is paved passed the main fork, and if so, for how far? And if it’s not paved, is the surface easily distinguised from the surface of FS23?

    (I also think it’s *possible*, but not likely, that they made it much further on FS23, and intentionally entered the BLM network from one of the other access points, though all stories seem to be assuming they entered the BLM network at the main fork.)

    The corrected location of the car helps make more sense of the situation, but makes new questions and leaves others unanswered. One fairly minor question: Weren’t the original reports that James had walked *2* miles on the road before dropping into the drainage? If that 2 was actually now *10*, how was 2 every reported? Just another mis-stated “fact” in this whole ordeal?

    Finally, it’s just so sad and painful that he didn’t find an easier way to the river, or didn’t try that road down to the lodge that he must have walked right past.

    Thanks to all for the information and links.

  322. Post 364
    from what I understand, in order to determine time of death the temperature is taken and calculated (a general rule of thumb is a drop of temp of 1.5 F/hr for first 12 hr, then 1.0 F/hr. until body is at room temp (68-70) )
    With hypothermia, it obviously doesnt work that way due to extreme temperatures.
    That is why I believe the coroner was vague.

  323. LW (#364) & Tara (#372): 10 miles on the road instead of 4 miles on the road pushes back the timeline by 2 hours, BUT as someone pointed out, the upper part of the canyon was much more passable than the lower part.

    Thus, the time James lost on the road would have been made up hiking the upper part of the canyon, which I initially also put at 500 meters per hour, clearly too slow.

    He only stopped when daylight/twilight was gone (Saturday).
    Searchers believe he spent the night where the clothes (one sock, blue skirt etc.) were found due to a depression in the soft ground.

    Hence, the estimated time of death does not change – Sunday afternoon/evening.

    The coroner was vague in his initial report, but later said, that rigor mortis had already gone away when the body was found, and it goes away 24 hours after it sets in.

    The searchers trying to go upstream the Big Windy Creek from the Rogue River found it impassable, i.e. one would have to wade/swim, and had James ventured into the last 1/2 mile of Bid Windy Creek, he would have had to wade or even swim.
    He was clearly about to do that, as his body was found in the water. He underestimated how swiftly icy water will carry away his body temperature.

    He didn’t die during the night from Sunday to Monday as he certainly would have spent the night in a (somewhat) dry spot.

    He didn’t die on Monday as that would make his progress slower than the progress of the SAR team.

    He didn’t die on Saturday as that would have meant covering 16 miles, 5.2 to 5.5 of them in the canyon, in about 10 daylight hours on Saturday.

    The best estimate is that he died on Sunday afternoon/evening, as he had to wade into Big Windy Creek once again.

  324. NEVADA CITY, Calif. — Crews from the Nevada County Search and Rescue Team spent Sunday looking for two Santa Cruz men who disappeared after an offroad motorcycle trip in the Sierra.
    At the time, a cold winter storm front was dumping between 8 inches and a foot of new snow in the area.

    The Sheriff’s Department said Aaron Lakey and Eric Scott, both 33, failed to return Saturday night. They were due at a friend’s house.

    Rescue crews located their gray Ford F-350 in the Tahoe National Forest near Highway 20 and Calk Bluff Road about 15 miles outside of Nevada City. However, the men and their motorcycles were missing.

    For all those ideas out there…..

  325. Joe can you set up a thread for the two men missing in Santa Cruz. We should start helping out.

  326. RodneyG, I don’t think they passed the fork and backed up. I think they got to the fork and took the correct turn, backing up after deciding that road was getting undrivable.

  327. Tara and Glen –

    I’m going to make a new post for the Nevada County SAR effort.
    I do have a forum environment for travel stuff set up but it requires a login so let’s just try another long string of posts for simplicity.

    If we find a local person or agency in that area who is blogging/taking comments I’d want to shift the focus to that local “location” because we don’t want to interfere with existing info collection by having a separate collection here.

  328. RE: LW / post 364: it is a moot point regarding them not searching Tuesday night as the coroner later clarified it was his strong belief that he survived 1, perhaps 2 nights at most given his debilitated condition, poor clothing, lack of means to re-warm himself, and the exhaustion certain to result from hiking as far as he did. However, given that, SAR efforts nationwide routinely cease at night and resume at first light when the terrain is hostile and dangerous. Two considerations in this case:
    1. The only thing worse than having one person lost and/or injured in the backcountry is having two or more. SAR personnel have a responsibility to take prudent risks with the people doing the searching. Darkness adds a host of perils to a process already replete with danger for the searchers: dramatic drop in temperature / reduced ability to follow his trail / low visibility / exhaustion for the searchers. It does not do a whole lot of good to find Kim if a searcher loses his life in the process, which DOES happen even in daylight searches.
    2. The terrain – several accounts have stated searchers were forced into Windy Creek at numerous points as the canyon is so steep in places, and so heavily forested, that the only way to descend is to get into the water. Take a look at a USGS contour map of the lower drainage. There are drop offs & cliffs and very steep terrain. This is NOT somewhere you want to be clamoring around in the dark.

  329. RE: Post 368 / Minor clarification – actually the Rogue can, and is, run year round. Another pertinent river is the Illinois, which is run in the early-mid Spring. In either case, rafters and kayaker know to stay off Bear Camp and utilize other lower elevation routes. I agree they should gate it. There are a multitude of alternative routes to get into that area for the determined few who want to.

  330. One thing I can’t get my head around is why he would get into the water. It seems if you come to a river and have not choice but to cross it (in freezing weather), you turn around and go back where you came from. Maybe he really thought he was getting somewhere and would be there soon, I don’t know. Or just cloudy thinking. Or by then he couldn’t turn around because too difficult to climb up from where he was. (I’m not “blaming” him for what he did, just trying to piece everything together.)

  331. (382)
    Hi Joy,

    I think he thought he was close…also the prospect of turning around and going back to see his family dying (that I believe was his frame of mind) was not an option. I think James figured he had to save his family and he had to feel his destination had to be just right around the bend or just ahead.

    There is also a report that there were bear tracks near the area they found James. One of the searchers commented he probably ran into the stream to evade the bear.

    However, they also said that at points in the river he swam across to get the other side. I just don’t think he realized where he was and that getting wet was not an option.

    Certainly leads to the understanding of just how desperate his situation was.

  332. Paul: Nobody said SAR should continue searching during the night. The point several people, including me, have made is, that a mid-canyon insertion of SAR teams by rope/helicopter should have been made on Tuesday – it clearly was possible, as demonstrated by the rope/helicopter-aided recovery on Wednesday.
    But it wouldn’t have made any difference in this case.

    Joy: He was under the impression that he is walking down GALICE CREEK and he’d be in Galice any minute now – what difference does it make if you get a cold or even pneumonia if you can rescue your kids and wife?

    People tend to be optimists. Who would play lotto, given the dismal odds, if people weren’t optimists? Who would start a business (and the first few years are always tough) if people weren’t optimists? Everybody thinks, dying before their time, that happens to OTHER people. Not to me. That’s why you see some people commuting to work on motorcycles, dayin, dayout. Their thinking is, “I’ll beat the odds”.

  333. Greg – Actually, somebody did – I was responding to post 365 LW (I incorrectly identified it as 364 earlier) where the writer raised the question – why did they stop searching at nightfall on Tuesday ? Same author also referred to the SAR effort as “a bungled mess from the beginning”, and speculates on a “cover up”. I continue to feel the dialogue on SAR suffers from being too one-sided / critical in nature. Perhaps Joe or Spencer, being local, have a means to get one or more of the SAR folks involved to weigh in on this blog. We are only hearing one side of this debate and that is through the “filter” of the media and the press. Just like when Kati Kim provided all the information given out at the news conference, I think that more information from people who actually participated in the SAR effort will fill in many blanks and answer many questions.

  334. Greg – that’s an interesting thought that I never considered. The assertion that he thought he was going down Galice Creek. I can think of nothing worse than being confident enough that I knew my location to leave the road and still being 20 or so miles away.

    Paul, I do have “friends of friends” who were involved in the search. It’s kinda awkward to ask folks to participate in a blog conversation though. I’ll see what I can do 🙂

  335. Spencer,

    Early on information came out that Kati had told investigators that they thought they were only a few miles from Galice. He knew if he found Rogue River it would lead to that location. That is why I think he left in the first place because he thought it would only take a few hours walk and since the snow was melting, etc…

    After walking over 10 miles on the road and seeing the creek he must have thought it was the river that would leave to Galice and that he had to be very close at that point.

  336. Thanks Spencer, I would totally understand their reluctance given what they have just been through. Still, it would be so helpful to the dialogue here to get the side of story from the folks actually in the trenches doing the heavy lifting. With so many of the postings being critical of their efforts and methodologies I feel, in fairness, they should have the opportunity to have a voice.

    Kati Kim, as relayed in the press conference, said they thought they were close to Galice, which could easily have led James to conclude he was on Galic Creek given his unfamiliarity with the area. Given that he got within 1/2 mile of the Rogue it is possible that at some point in his descent he was able to see the river, thus reinforcing that mistaken belief. So heartbreaking that he made it so far and came that close to the Rogue.

  337. Spencer – looking at the Oregon DOT map shows the Galice Creek leading straight into Galice.

    Imagine you’ve already walked for 10 miles along a road, encountered no traffic whatsoever, coming around each curve you expect some sign of civilization, a road sign perhaps, or a telegraph pole.
    Instead, nothing.

    So he convinces himself, “this must be Galice Creek and at the end of the Creek there is the town”.

    Paul – I think what happenend is, SAR command was relying on two things:
    1. that fast progress would be made down the canyon – after all, it is only 5.7 miles long, right?
    2. that a SAR team heading upstream Big Windy Creek from Rogue River would be able to make at least SOME progress up the creek and meet up with the searchers hiking down.

    Instead, what happened was:
    – progress down the creek happened only at 500 meters per hour (1 mile in 3.2 hours), much slower than anticipated.
    [They had probably anticipated a pace of, say, 1 mile per hour and at 1 mile per hour, they would have reached the end of the canyon by the end of Tuesday.]
    – the SAR team coming from Rogue River found Big Windy Creek IMPASSABLE, probably too high to wade in safely

    By the time SAR command *realized* that neither team would make it to the end of the canyon, it was probably already early Tuesday afternoon, too late to organize a rope/helicopter insertion and search the last quarter (or third) of the canyon – but that’s exactly where James was.

    As I continue to analyze what happened, I grow less and less critical of the search effort.
    Initially I did not know that an attempt had been made to penetrate Big Windy Creek from Rogue River, when in reality that attempt *had* been made, it just had failed.

  338. Greg,
    I think the bigger issue regarding SAR is that they thought the area was cleared and it wasn’t searched until Sunday after the ping’s were discovered.

    I don’t think anyone can really fault SAR for their ground efforts…tough terrain, etc…

    But the mistake on Friday really hurt this effort.

  339. The more I read about SAR organizations the more impressed I am at what they do on a mission and how they train.

    My impression is that in the Kim family situation the SAR organizations were generally not activated for the initial broad search for the car – that it was considered a police matter for the various counties. Am I wrong about that?

    If that is correct, I wonder if it would have been better to turn the matter over at the get-go to the SAR organizations. The police seem have no clear mandate on their role in finding lost people and have many other tasks to focus on. The SAR groups seem much more mission oriented and may have conducted a more systematic search on a more urgent basis.

  340. Greg-

    If you go to topozonec.com and type in Big Windy Creek, OR you can view for free a good topo map. You can change the settings/scale on the left (1:24,000 works well). The Swiftwater team attempting to work up from the Rogue I believe said they encountered a cliff. On the topo, the river crosses 40′ countour lines, once very close to the Rogue, and then again not much further up, implying a drop. The river canyon walls themselves appear near vertical in places. Grueling terrain to be sure.

  341. I mis-typed above, correct link is:
    type in Big Windy Creek, OR
    Change the map size to large and the scale to 1:24,000, though the initial image gives you a feel for his whole trek down the drainage. Ugly no matter what the scale.

  342. David I think there were jurisdictional issues from the start due to the huge search area. I think Oregon State Police was the overall coordinator throughout but then search and coordination of county efforts was carried on by various county SAR teams. There was also the “volunteer private” effort by friends and family and I’m not sure how that tied in to the paid choppers from Carson Helicopters.

    I still think a big lesson to take away from this is that SAR should have a way to incorporate local resident information and volunteer search activity more quickly and effectively. In this case it would have been nice to have all the lodge owners and people who live near or know areas well apprised of the situation ASAP and providing their own input.

  343. NEW INFO
    They’re Wayne and Dianne Guay. Police say they’re from South Carolina and were heading to New York when they disappeared. They were last spotted at the Shell Station in Lady Smith on Wednesday. Their daughter is now passing out fliers hoping someone will recognize them. She says this has been a nightmare for her and it’s not like her parents to not call.

    Police say the couple was driving a white four-door 2003 Mazda3 with South Carolina license plate number 732-RZZ.


    That was from yesterday…

  344. Whoever did the work on that layoutscene site with all the photos ought to update all 11 pictures to reflect the correct location of the car.

    I’m from Seattle and have been engrossed in this thing ever since they were found. I greatly appreciate those photos, but not being from Southern Oregon and not having the same level of directional sense or imagination as others, I’m finding it impossible to mentally substitute the actual location on maps #2 through #11 on that site.

  345. I am leaving this comment after having read through the entire thread’s worth of comments. Many people here won’t like my comment, but so be it. The essence of it is that James Kim died mainly as the result of a series of misjudgments made by he and his wife. Those misjudgments, taken together, add up to negligence that took one life and endangered three others.

    This doesn’t mean I think he “deserved” to die. His death is sad and tragic. His family will be scarred forever. I wish it hadn’t happened. But if he and his wife had done things differently, he’d be alive. I am speaking of the errors that stranded them there in the first place.

    Here’s what happened on that Saturday. I pieced it together from various stories on line, mainly the Portland Oregonian:

    They left Portland for Gold Beach, a distance of 300 miles. They stopped at the Chamber of Commerce in Wilsonville, a town about 30 miles south of Portland along I-5. At that office, they asked for directions to the coast. They were given an Oregon DOT map and a booklet about the coast, and they were told to take either Oregon Hwy. 38 or Oregon Hwy. 42 over to U.S. 101.

    They were specifically advised not to use any Forest Service roads to the coast. The ODOT map that they were given has box with a red-letter warning next to Bear Camp Road, saying that it is closed in winter.

    The Kims drove south on I-5 past the Hwy. 38 exit, intending to use Hwy. 42. They stopped at Roseburg for dinner, and left at about 9 p.m. Based on Mrs. Kim’s later account about having stopped for the night for fear of running out of gas, it’s clear that they didn’t refill the gas tank after Wilsonville, based on the range of the model Saab they were driving. Nor did they have foul-weather gear or emergency supplies.

    They had spent the prior week in Seattle. I live there, and the weather was a prime topic of converation at Thanksgiving because November was the rainiest month on record. And just after Thanksgiving, there were predictions of cold and snow. To be brought, in fact, by the storm that trapped the Kims. It’s hard to imagine that they had missed the weather forecasts; everyone was discussing the weather at that point.

    After leaving Roseburg without refueling, without emergency supplies of any kind, without winter clothing and with two babies after dark on a rainy night with a storm forecast to be blowing in, they missed the Hwy. 42 turnoff. They looked on the ODOT map and chose Bear Creek Rd., ignoring the warning on the map.

    They drove up that road — again, without a full tank, with babies in the car, with no supplies or winter clothing — and passed not one, not two but three signs warning that it was closed in snow. When they started up that road there was a mixture of rain and snow, which quickly turned to snow as the elevation climbed.

    Still, they didn’t turn around but kept on going. Into the snow, without supplies and with kids in the car, against numerous warnings, on a foul night.

    Now, many of the “compassionate” posters here have been eager to blame the search and rescue people for not getting to them sooner. There may well be some truth to that. But none of those same posters seem willing to take note of what can only be described as the Kims’ negligence in traveling up Bear Creek Rd. to begin with. This didn’t happen as the result of a casual mistake. They disregarded not only the weather, but five separate warnings. And they didn’t even gas up the car.

    The vandalized gate? Yep, that’s a contributing factor. But, as someone who is a life-long city dweller who has done a whole lot of driving in the backcountry, I have some news for the perfectionists: Missing signs, substandard maintenance and petty vandalism are rife on those tertiary roads.

    Why isn’t that stuff fixed sooner than it is? Simple: They don’t have the staff or the tools. Why? Because this country has made a collective decision not to adequately fund the Forest Service. I don’t happen to agree with that collective decision, but it’s a reality and every city dweller who ventures into the backcountry expecting Interstate highway-level maintenance of the roads had better remember it. In fact, on Bear Creek Rd. a lot of individual Oregonians do volunteer maintenance of the road. I suppose they’re to blame too, right?

    And finally, to the bottom line: What on earth were the Kims thinking when they blew off five separate warnings and took a wilderness road in the middle of a foul night, in the snow, without supplies, without adequate gas, and with two babies in the car? Why would anyone be so thoughtless?

    It’s impossible to say, although I’d love to hear that question answered by Mrs. Kim, and answered in detail. Until then, I’ll offer my speculation. I think it goes to the Pacific Northwest’s image in the popular mind as a benign temperate rainforest. I think the average city dweller figures that the worst that can happen there is they might get a little too wet.

    So let the word go out. There are mountains (by the way, also marked on the ODOT map, including a 5,200 foot peak shown right next to the road they took, the one marked “Closed in Winter” on the same map) in Oregon. Take them seriously. Not only that, but Oregon is the 7th largest state in the country. It is 1.5 times the size of New England. If you get lost in the woods, don’t expect that someone’s going to come right away.

    So now everyone can start taking shots at me for being so heartless as to dare tell the truth about this whole thing. Mrs. Kim, I am truly sorry that your husband James is no longer with us. It must have been excruciating for you, and I do feel for you. But make no mistake, if the two of you had paid attention to what you were told and where you were, none of this would have ever happened.

  346. PacNWer – your post is realist and honest and I think by and large, most folks would agree with your overall theme. The Kims made bad decisions – there were decisions that I will never understand and there were decisions that may be downright ignorant and dangerous. I don’t think anyone is forgetting those mistakes. There are also a lot of assumptions out there – If you trust Kati and there understanding of where they were, I think they thought they had turned around but we don’t know. We also don’t know how much gas they had, and there have been conflicting statements regarding the stop in Canyonville.

    I think a lot of people can see themselves ending up in a similar situation – maybe a lot of us have made bad decisions and did it at a time where the cost wasn’t as severe. I’m not happy with the outcome, but I’m happy so many people saw this. As some folks have said, there are survival lessons to be learned and there are improvements to be made in the efforts to find them.

  347. I’m sure Kati Kim will be the first to admit that they made some mistakes and that she will forever be cautious when she takes road trips. I’m sure that she has learned the lessons you so eagerly wish to explain to her.

    Your assumption that the “compassionate” people on this board are blaming only the SAR teams and don’t admit the mistakes the Kims made is wrong. The people here have done a great job of analyzing all the facts. In fact, this site has been far more informative than the Digg site or other sites where there are plenty of people for you to commiserate with about the mistakes the Kims made. It’s like the protesters that show up at soldier’s funerals to make the point that our soldiers are dying because of gay people. People are entitled to their opinions. But don’t be surprised if people that have sympathy are going to be offended. I don’t mean to be harsh, your post isn’t actually as bad as some of the people that seem to enjoy mocking and criticizing the Kims. In short, mistakes were made by everyone, and some heroic efforts were made by a lot of people. That’s why it’s a touching story.

    And some of your premises are incorrect. How do you know they didn’t have adequate gas? They drove for about 6 hours on mountain roads and still had enough gas to run the car for three more days. And when they stopped they were completely lost in a maze of roads. Yes, they Kati said they were low on gas. But I bet that means they didn’t know how far it was to get out and they figured they needed a bunch of gas. I wouldn’t consider even a 1/4 tank of gas enough if I was lost in a maze of logging roads which, I’m sure, they started to realize were in the middle of nowhere..

    Also, as people noted above, it wasn’t winter yet. It was late November and when a sign says a road may not be open in winter, I would expect it to have a gate. That’s what they do on all the roads they close in winter where I’ve been. Also, the map doesn’t make it clear how rugged that road is. I’m sure you saw the posts on this above.

    The Kims made mistakes that most of us could make. I live in San Francisco as well and I bet the Kims were not unfamilar with crossing a mountain range to the coast. We all have been through roads like these on trips to Marin, the Sierras, or places like Oregon. It’s just that this area is about as rugged as it gets on the west coast ranges. So to me the mistakes they made were indeed mistakes, it may have turned out different if they were more cautious, but I’m sure I’ve taken those risks before, and I’m sure a lot of people have before as well, and just don’t see how it’s a wildly crazy set of decisions.

  348. Spencer, is your thinking they thought they had turned around because they believed they were 4 or 5 miles from Galice?

  349. PacNWer, You are correct in your assessment of the mistakes that the Kims made up to the point of becoming snow bound. There are many aspects to this story and many people are discussing the “before stuck” and the “after stuck” here. Maybe this thread should be split up into multiple categories in debriefing this tragedy so the individuals such as yourself can stay within the topic of “before stuck”. Then you will not get frustrated with the “after stuck” discusion. I choose to comment on the “after stuck” as a way to potentially benefit future SAR efforts in this area and also strive for better signage at an intersection were many many people take the wrong route (all year long). I posted a video of the intersection in an earlier comment.

    And yes, even if they had not taken a wrong turn they still would have been heading into a very dangerousness situation ignorant of the hardship that lay ahead of them despite the warnings. Had they however known where they were, they would have had one more opportunity to redeem themselves from the bad choices they had made by heading back the way the came. In this case the SAR effort may never have happened.

    Now that this tragedy has happened it is an opportunity for people to learn more about personal responsibility, parental responsibility and winter preparedness. Peoples ears are open. It is a good time for you and others to share your/our wisdom.

    As for the “after stuck”, most of the people that that I know (that live here) had suspected that they tried to take 23. Local input to the SAR effort needs to be better integrated in the future. When I finally got fed up with the search not focusing on this area I just went the hell up there to search.

    The SAR teams deserve no criticism as far as I know. They worked very hard in the areas that they were told to search, but the incident command overhead do need some critical review.

  350. Hi PacNWer,

    Thank you for taking your time and explaining your thoughts. As Jason has pointed out about the level of gas they had, etc… There are plenty of data points we may never get and never figure everything out.

    A lot of the analysis done here is based on media reporting and that as we all know could be totally wrong.

    However, I think it should be said that a man should not necessarily be condemned for a mistake(s) he has made but what he does afterward. Now I am not suggesting people should be left off for their mistakes but should be judged by their actions. In that regard James Kim is a true hero for his countless selfless acts. Let’s not forget he paid dearly for his mistakes and his family will spend the rest of their lives thinking about how their son, husband and father had a horrific journey to death. So beating up on James Kim doesn’t serve anybody anything. To me there is nothing to be learned from it.

    Let’s talk about the trained professionals who are paid to do a job. If we mess up in our job there are ramifications and when those ramifications dictate life or death well there is a much higher level of responsibility involved.

    It is my opinion based on the data presented so far and analyzed that there were many major mistakes made by professionals that could be corrected and a system that any of us might need some day could be improved. So I don’t think the criticism regarding SAR is not without warrant. There is a lot at stake here – especially if one of us is next in requiring their services.

    If it is found out that a certain emergency coordinator on the ground did in fact ignore or otherwise dismiss critical evidence which could have directly led to the rescue of ALL the Kim family…what should be done about that?

    If that were the case and James King could be alive today – well we could tell him directly how bad he messed up. He probably could have written a book and made millions of it.

    I hope I haven’t come across harsh or nasty with this. I just think we need to look what and where we can improve the infrastructure that is supposed to help protect us whenever we can. Heck we are paying for it – we should be able to help improve it.

    I don’t think the Kim family needs any suggestions on improvements at this time but I do believe that the SAR process needs a lot of help.

    I also believe there are many lessons that all of us can learn from the Kim’s mistake…we just don’t need to keep dragging them through the mud.

  351. To the people who believe they missed the turn- where does the backing up looking out the door fit in? Also, turning down hill to get below snow level? I might be missing something.

  352. Mel – Yes, my gut feeling is that they thought they were heading back towards Galice – nothing else can account for ending up 25 miles down the wrong road in the wrong direction and believing they were 4-5 miles away. They were lost, I don’t think we’ll ever be able to retrack their path.

    One other thing that is just a hunch, but looking at how their car was positioned in the intersection where the car stopped, I think they may have driven in on a different road than James walked in on. They were parked in a “wishbone” shaped intersection – the car was oriented as it if were coming from the high part of the wishbone, not the road James walked out on. If that’s the case, it throws a monkey wrench in all of our guesses.

  353. PacNWer, do you think any of that is news to any of us or Kati Kim? You don’t think she is completely overwhelmed with regret and retracing her foot steps over and over and over? I think all of us, from the most compassionate on, have acknowledge the mistakes they made. I’m not sure what your ultimate point is.

  354. They could have thought the road had curved back towards Galice. I recall something about they positioned the car in the intersection but I could be wrong. I doubt they thought the intersection was 30 miles from Galice. At some point they were paying a lot of attention to the odometer.
    In those conditions, concerned, driving slowly, four eyes, I can’t believe they would have missed the turn.

  355. I still say if you are out driving in snow at night it is very hard to see the edge of the road let alone beyond that. You follow what seems to be the main road. When they stopped that night they were probably very, very lost. I can’t imagine driving on an unfamiliar road in those conditions. How would you know which direction you had gone and how to get back? You are looking at the maps from above. They were looking at 10 feet in front of them. Even when James left that morning he was looking at 10 feet in front of him. He couldn’t really know where they were in that maze. They thought they were on a major road to a major town and there was no way for them to know otherwise. They would not have taken such a chance with their precious cargo. Go out and drive in a snowstorm sometime. See what it is really like.

  356. pac…

    you make some good points. I agree those roads are not going to be maintained like an interstate.

    But I think your oversimplifying the facts, its not so one-dimensional. Yes they made mistakes but you make it sound almost intentional. I believe there is a chance they didn’t see some of those signs (the snow). Try to put yourself in the place of someone who is not accustomed to that kind of wildnerness or the area. A lot of us have the frame of mind that …if I just keep going I will run into…a house, or another car, or a phone, or I will be heading down hill if I just drive one more mile, etc, etc. The map doesnt say “absolutley no human life will be found here”

    I made this mistake once at 3am driving on highway 101 in northern california toward big sur. desolate, hardly in comparison. But to me, from chicago …well california is one of the most populated states in the country, I expected to run into a gas station sooner or later. I didn’t. I ended up turning around when I saw a sign that said next gas 50 miles ahead and I knew I had to go 30 miles back….I almost didn’t make it but I did and I spent the rest of the night in the closed gas station parking lot. I felt pretty stupid but it never occured to me that a road like that would not even have a few gas stations closer together, open at 3am. At least I made it, but spending the night in my car in a strange place was really scary actually.

    And I’m not as stupid as I look, or sound right now. It happens, especially when you make assumptions based on what you know and have experienced in the past. I have done tons and tons of driving and am usually right. But sometimes people make mistakes.

    The maps are not as clear as you say they are, and the Kim’s did not have the precious local knowledge that you have, and they are evidently very intelligent people….maybe not quite as accustomed to the wilderness as you.

    I would have probably turned around but I think they thought they were farther along and that they would run into something soon, and that it was safer than turning back, finally they had to turn back and then made some fatal mistakes, which I believe were true mistakes due to visibility and disorientation, tired…panic. they tried to wait it out too, and were welcomed with new snow.

    whatever, I just know it doesn’t do any good to punish them any further.

    Its not all as black and white as you are saying. No one is to blame, but we can all talk about how these things can be improved when they do happen, and as we have seen today, they will happen again. Do we let them sit there and die? Judge them and punish them? or do we talk and try to understand, learn and come up with suggestions that might eventually help?

    some are certainly more constructive than the other.

  357. I think if it was snowing heavy when they got to the intersection they would have turned around. I’m thinking it didn’t get heavy until they had been on 23. I’ll stop guessing about all this. Good forum.

  358. Does anyone know…at what point along the road was it that the Kims had to stop, get out of the car and move rocks off the road in order to continue, as I read… > http://www.oregonlive.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news/116534496687330.xml?oregonian?lctop&coll=7&thispage=2

    Also found the following here… http://infospigot.typepad.com/infospigot_the_chronicles/current_affairs/index.html
    >>>”Kati Kim told searchers that when they realized they had missed the turnoff, they looked at a roadmap and found a direct route that went from the little town of Merlin over the mountains to Gold Beach. They did not consult their two laptop computers for an online map.

    “After leaving the freeway, the Kims drove past a gas station, pizza parlor and coffee shop. On the way they passed at least three yellow signs warning that Bear Camp Road to Agnes and Gold Beach might be blocked by snowdrifts. The road is paved but one lane, originally built to haul logs out of the Siskiyou National Forest.

    “Driving higher through the snow in their all-wheel-drive silver Saab station wagon, the Kims came to a fork. A fourth yellow sign warned of snowdrifts blocking the way if they took the left fork to Gold Beach. They took the right fork, not knowing where it went.

    “Kati Kim told searchers they got stuck in snow once, managed to get turned around, then decided to stay put because they were low on gas.

  359. Sorry, my entire entry did not come up …

    >>At first it was only raining, Kim told Lee, but snow began falling as they got higher in the mountains. The road was bad, and at one point James and Kati Kim had to get out to remove rocks from the road. They tried to back down the road, but could not, and then took the spur road to try to get to a lower elevation and out of the snow zone.

  360. PacNWer,

    Negligence is a strong charge. Your scenario is filled with assumptions. Lets assume your story about them getting a map in Wilsonville and not gassing up after that is true. The report where they got a map in Wilsonville had them leaving at 130 pm. They stopped for the night a 2 am, deep in the mountains, with at least 6000 feet of elevation change. Wow, 12 hours of travel on one tank of gas! Plus enough to run the engine for 3 more days. I got to get me one of those Saabs. Energy crisis solved.

    Anyway, the Chamber of commerce story was later said to be false by the State Police http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/12/07/MAPS.TMP

    Which means the story about a Chamber of Commerce employee specifically warning them against Bear Camp Road….way way up in Wilsonville (one know-it-all employee) was a crock.

  361. I cannot place them exactly, but have been over that road countless times. The large yellow signs warning of the possiblity of drifting snow, etc are numerous on both ends of the road. My memory is there is one almost immediately after you turn off the Merlin/Galice road, and another still far enough down, elevation-wise, to be well below where snow is commonly encountered. They are large and prominently placed, all but impossible to miss. They are visible in several still photos that accompany some of the accounts I have read, though I don’t have a specific link.

  362. I know it may be hard to believe…but many of us…especially us flatlanders, well it doesn’t completley register that rain may turn to snow if we go up. I am not so sure they knew it was going to be a terrible snow storm. I know they were from San Fran…but I just dont buy that they deliberatley put themselves and their kids at risk.

  363. Greg (389),

    Most of us here only have media reports to go on, which have repeatedly been shown to be way off base on this story. So I certainly dont have a strong factual base to assess this whole story.

    One thing that is not in dispute is that SAR did not find the body on Tuesday. I’ve yet to see anyone explain why that wasnt a blunder. They had a maybe 6 mile canyon to search and at least 4 helicopters at their disposal and a wealthy Mr. Kim senior willing to pay whatever it takes to find his son. As I suggested earlier in this thread, dropping off 6, two man teams at various lengths along the canyon would have involved only 12 people, given them over 7 hours of light and none of them would have had to cover more than 1 mile. If they couldnt get into the far end from the Rogue on a boat, they should have immediately called for a helicopter. The Sherrifs quote “we cant get ahead of him” suggests they must not have even come close to trying to cover the entire canyon with multiple teams simultaenousy.

    If so, thats a huge mistake. Not the fault of the people actually slogging through the canyon in miserable conditions, but whoever was calling the shots and coordinating.

  364. Roy it is something that needs to be looked as well as the report of evidence being ignored the previous Friday where if that were true that is very serious. James Kim could be alive today if they paid attention to the owner of the Black Bar Lodge – they didn’t and in fact they incorrectly marked that area had been cleared!!! That is a clamity of epic proportion – incompetence at best.

    Mark my words if that is accurate about what happened on Friday – it will end up being the biggest part of this story and there are many of us that will not stop until it is put to rest. I am sure Jame’s father will want an explanation.

  365. My husband and I got lost around Orlando once, on the toll system, with a GPS, running out of gas, and we got off the toll and barely made it to a closed gas station. Which was in a very scary looking area. We called the local police to tell them how stupid we were, and asked them to please keep an eye on us until the gas station opened. When they found out where we were, they didn’t want us to stay there. Three of them came out right away. Then one of them went and got gas, came and gave it to us, and then escorted us to a safe, open gas station. If we had died there, it would have been our own fault. But we sure did appreciate the help. I don’t think police and SAR are responsible for our safety. I think we are responsible for our safety. But I am really glad we have police and SAR and firefighters and other first responders. I’m going to guess that 99% of the time they are getting people out of their own stupid messes. But it’s nice not to pay with your life for a mistake.

    There seems to be one official who’s possible multiple mistakes probably cost James Kim the chance to be rescued. Yes, he got himself into that mess. But her alleged errors may had made sure he wasn’t getting back out. Apparently Friday Sara Rubrecht’s deputies went past the vandalized gate, that is supposed to be closed because it’s such a common mistake to take it. But still that logging road did not get cleared. Apparently Friday Sara Rubrecht ignored the owner of Black Bar lodge when he both called her and told her in person that there were tire marks on that road and that road needed cleared. It’s reported that Friday the pilot who finally did locate Kati and the girls was going to check that road, but since the authorities said it was cleared, he waited until Sunday. And I’m guessing he might have told someone about the tracks he saw Sunday afternoon. And it’s reported that Sunday another department wanted to clear that road, but was told it has already been done, when it had not. Most of Saturday James Kim spent on the road, and he was alive. And it was apparently quick and easy to track him along the road. So even finding Kati Kim late Saturday or early Sunday, would have probably been enough time to save James Kim. And yes, I realize that the media isn’t a reliable source for facts. But it raises enough questions, you would think some good reporter would go dig into the real truth. Maybe they don’t do that any more.

  366. Yes, Susan that is certainly the most nagging info I’ve heard, about Rubrecht ignoring John of Black Bar’s recommendation to search the spur road. I also agree that a good reporter (do they exist?) should have gone beyond the superficial story. At least I wish they had.

  367. Roy (421),

    I wrote down similar lines of thought in post #117.
    But by now I think, had I been in the SAR commander’s position, I wouldn’t have started Tuesday by having SAR teams rappelling down, either.
    For starters, it’s dangerous – helicopter gets caught in a gust of wind, man on the rope slams into a tree or a canyon wall.
    Also, they were EXPECTING to wrap up the search by Tuesday evening – the canyon is only 5.7 miles long, and they had teams coming in from either side.

    Then, probably some time around noon, a disturbing picture emerges: The SAR team going downstream isn’t making the progress they hoped for, but they have only covered (say) 1.5 miles (500 meters * 5 hours). Or 2 miles. And the SAR team going upstream finds the entrance to Big Windy Creek impassable, period.

    Is there still enough time to go to plan B and organize a SAR team rappelling down into the canyon on Tuesday afternoon? One would hope so, but as it looks there wasn’t.

    The ones trained to rappel down from a helicopter (SWAT team members, for instance) may have been on the ground, somewhere in the middle of the canyon, for instance.

  368. The reporting on this has really bugged me. I had to come to this site to get the best information. The best media on this case so far are oregonlive and the San Francisco Chronicle. Although even they could have been better. And I’m probably missing some local t.v. stations or other exceptions.

    I just can’t believe that Kati and the kids were found early Monday afternoon and we find out about the true location of the car, what Friday? This is a major basic fact. Step one as a reporter would be going to the site. Maybe it was so basic no one followed up to double check.

  369. Susan, nice job on summarizing that. I would also note that the pilot went searching completely on his own. He was hired by the Kim’s nor was he part of SAR. He was just a concerned local who has grandkids. He is a true as well! He has stayed out of the limelight – just like a true hero would.

  370. Susan,

    One more point I would make. Once you have made a call to the police and/or SAR and they come to your aid – I would say that they are most definitely responsible for your safety from that point forward.

  371. Yes Susan, very well put. Most of us have made bad decisions, or mistakes, or however you want to put it. If not, first responders would not be necessary. Like noted above, just look at the other posts today. Two hikers stranded. Two motorcylclists lost. And a couple on a welll-traveled road lost.

    I myself would like to help in these situations. Just not many people get lost in the wilds of San Francisco.

    Also, speaking of San Francisco, I really bet that the Kims know about mountain roads. As I said before, living in SF we are close to many mountain ranges. If you go North or South, there are plenty of obsure mountain passes. The Kims seem like the typical SF family. I’m sure they went skiing in the Sierras, or took trips up there. Probably South to the Santa Cruz mountains and North, where it gets really wild, like in Southern Oregon (although So. Oregon seems to take the cake on wildness–correct me if I’m wrong). Probably the closest thing in California to So. Oregon is the Lost Coast. I hiked the Lost Coast and drove on the roads there. I had to drive over streams going through the road, past boulders, etc.

    My point I guess, is that I don’t think they weren’t city slickers that didn’t know anything about mountain roads (welll, little mountain roads–these are only 5,000 foot peaks, it’s reasonable to think it it’s not going to be that bad). I think they just thought they could get through it. As I have and have done successfullly so far. Anyway, no way to really know what happened until Kati wants to talk. But I think the ideas I’ve heard on this site are the most educated of guesses.

  372. Jason,

    In fact when I lived in the bay area…thats all we got psyched for is tahoe, cascades, etc…many a weekend trek to those locations especially people in the tech field.

  373. The latest from CNN:


    POSTED: 2:21 a.m. EST, December 12, 2006
    By Drew Griffin

    MERLIN, Oregon (CNN) — We came to Oregon to retrace the path James Kim and his family took the day they got stranded in the Rogue River wilderness.

    When we finally reached the spot where the Kims’ car stopped after a long, winding journey, our traveling companions — Sgt. Joel Heller, Josephine County Sheriff’s office, and John James, owner of the Black Bar Lodge — both had the same exact thought: Why did the Kims continue down such a desolate path when they so clearly did not know where they were going?

    Though it is heart wrenching to question the decisions made by a man who died trying to save his family, it is hard not to wonder.

    Three times, we passed large yellow signs warning that snow may completely block the roadway.

    Eventually, we came to a fork in the road where a tiny sign — almost invisible unless you actually stop the car and focus on it — pointed the way to the Oregon Coast. The sign pointed left. The Kims drove right.

    This was obviously the wrong direction. It was one lane, no guardrail, no markings, no “winding road ahead” signs, no speed limit signs, no nothing.

    During our daylight journey, the road was so hazardous, so covered with snow and ice that a CNN satellite truck operator refused to continue, fearing the truck could go over the side.

    The pavement began to break up, then turn to gravel, and finally to dirt.

    This was an old logging road used only in summer by lodge owners hauling supplies. In winter, it was not generally in use.

    In fact, beginning November 1 a gate usually blocked the road. Somebody must have broken the lock and left the gate open. Had it been shut and locked, the Kims could not have gone down the road at all.

    But they did. Twenty miles down that desolate road, James and Kati Kim and their two young daughters found themselves stranded in the snowy wilderness.

    By the time we came to the spot they stopped, our four-wheel-drive vehicle was being battered on both sides by overhanging branches and bushes.

    This is where the Kims stayed for nine days, and the spot from which James Kim set off on foot on a journey into the Oregon wilderness that resulted in his death.


  374. Not trying to put any misinformation out there, but since the orientation of the car where it was found has been mentioned, I was able to map out this alternate route to get to the same spot. I have no idea what route(s) were taken, and I’ve come to wonder enough about the accuracy of some things in the media, so I was curious whether it’s possible to get to that place another way, and I found that it is (or at least was whenever the satellite pic was taken). For what it’s worth:

  375. The mistake on the actual location of the car also troubles me. Although it is very likely this particular error did not affect the outcome, it brings up major concerns about the competency of those in charge. Wasn’t a GPS reading done of the vehicle location site by the rescue helicopters? All you need are the two numbers, latitude and longitude, input them into Google Earth’s “Fly To” box or Google Maps search box and you can see exactly where it was.

    If all the latest reports and map images are true, then that would be 42.6904 -123.7766. Once LE/SAR had the vehicle coordinates and then the coordinates for where Mr. Kim’s tracks left the road (based on the map images, I’m estimating those to be 42.6376 -123.7987) then it would have been a fairly simple matter to determine how far he had walked. Even with the free version of Google Earth I could get a fairly accurate number within five minutes. Why did the numbers change from 2 to 3 miles, then 5 miles, and then 11 miles?

    Again, the question arises that if something this simple isn’t done correctly, then what else did they mess up on? I don’t mean to sound so cynical but…

    I have great admiration for those risking themselves out in the field and also for the long hours and dedication put in by others at the command sites. I’m just wondering if egos or bureaucracy sometimes gets in the way of the job being done to its utmost quality and efficiency.

    Were the tracks into the drainage found around 1:30 Monday? If so, why weren’t “care packages” dropped at 1/2 mile intervals or so along the drainage? Eliminate the first mile or so that could be covered by searchers that day and you’d only have 8 of them to do. If he was still alive Monday afternoon it could have saved his life.

    Also if you check 42.6287 -123.7718 on Google Earth you’ll see a spur road that comes within 600 ft or so of the bottom of the drainage about 2 miles down. This may sound “out there” but couldn’t they have used a PA system to try and contact Mr. Kim along this stretch of road and tell him to stay put, help was on the way? Or used this road to send in a rescue team if dropping them by helicopter wasn’t possible?

    Just so you don’t think I’m some kook, I live in southwest Oregon and am well aware of the terrain where they were searching. I’ve spent considerable time out in the forest both on foot and with my ATV. It is awful quiet out there and sounds carry a long way. It is possible that the creek may have been loud enough to drown out any attempt to contact him but it might have been worth a shot.

    Anyhow, I do hope the authorities learn lessons from this unfortunate situation. On any future incidents in this area I would actually consider volunteering to help with my ATV, GPS, and mapping abilities, but I get the impression that they aren’t receptive to that kind of thing.

  376. From the CNN Article
    “This was obviously the wrong direction. It was one lane, no guardrail, no markings, no “winding road ahead” signs, no speed limit signs, no nothing.”

    The core of that statement is true but a bit disingenuous. The writer is trying to craft the story for most impact but disregards that the main road has no guardrail or any significant signage either. The BLM road is wider than the FS road. If you are only paying attention to the road, the BLM road is the logical choice.

    Maggie – I have the same feeling that was their route as well. It’s just a hunch. I’ve heard rumors that they stopped the car at an intersection to maximize their chance of seeing someone else, but the orientation of the car just tells me they were taking the alternate route you showed. If so, James’ choice not to backtrack is a bit odd.

  377. Spencer, that statement you quoted does not seem crafted. It seems point blank true. The CNN TV Special was sugar coated, this article was how the reporter really saw it. The BLM road is only wider at the intersection, and quickly narrows, correct? It’s about time some informative, frank reporting is done.

  378. Maggie,

    It is possible that they took this alternative route, but I doubt it for two reasons:

    1. You would have thought Mr. Kim would have walked back on the same road he had traveled by car.

    2. This other route reaches an elevation of approx 3850 ft, which is 1000 ft higher than the currently accepted route and I believe higher than any other point on their journey.

  379. D.H., if you want to see a video of the intersection see post 85. The roads do look about the same from above. The only two paved roads on the route to the coast the Kims were taking, from what I understand, are at that very same fork in the road. Bear Creek Rd. is paved for the most part (correct me if I’m wrong guys, some parts are not paved?) and the part of the BLM road they took is paved, starting where they left the road. So they went a ways on pave road, even though it was the wrong road. It’s not surprising that people get confused there. The sign is between the two roads and doesn’t have arrows pointing out the way. I also noted above that they ended up on the very same BLM road that they left. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Kims followed that road until it ended, then went a little bit farther to see what was ahead, then either decided to stay put or backtrack. Anyway, as the SFChronicle guy wrote, both the Kims and especially James Kim went into the heart of darkness.

  380. rem, lots of questions.

    Why the inaccuracy on the placement of the car in initial reports? I was a little confused by that at first.. but it’s obvious that the SAR folks knew where the car was, it was just misreported to the media. The GPS location of the car was insignificant in that it was not a focus of the search once they started looking for James. In the 50 miles between the car and Merlin, and the transfer of the search to James, someone just relayed bad info. It’s understandable – people were allocated where they needed to be when the search focussed on James. Verifying the absolute accuracy of info given to the media is pretty minor in the scheme of things.

    The tracks into the drainage were found before they found the car from what I understand. Those tracks led the helicopters to the car. The care packages were not an SAR idea, they were paid for and suggested by Spencer Kim. Josephine county doesn’t have care packages lying around as simple as this sounds.

    Regarding the spur road – umm. Yeah, that’s all great, it’s one of those things that is a hell of a lot easier to think of a week later than it is when your focus is tracking the guy. I’d also say that the descent from that road into the canyon is too steep to safely descend by foot – it descends 500′ in less than 500′ horizontally. The people that SAR had on the ground were trained in tracking people, which is what they were doing. You can’t track someone by starting at a point where he didn’t go. The suggestion of cutting him of in the middle was good. SAR’s focus was to send someone from the bottom (and people trained for doing that couldn’t get up the canyon from the bottom) and tracking him from the top while having SWAT people essentially dangle from the helicopter doing an aerial search. I’m not saying that there can’t be improvements – you said it too – but I think they were pursuing the logical course.

    PA system.. again good idea, but no one has said that they didn’t use them – we don’t know. The helicopters were provided by Carson Helicopters and likely not equipped with PA’s. Josephine county doesn’t have choppers. If James was alive on Monday (and all signs indicate that he was not) the resonance of helicopters searching the canyon will be louder from distance than any PA system. I also want to point out something that has been dismissed. The Helicopters couldn’t see their own people standing below signaling them after being dropped off.

    I’ve seen a few people question the efficiency of the effort. I could be wrong – I think they were focussed on efficiency and not spreading the search too thin. It seems the search efforts wer focussed on the types of searches that would have the most likely chance of success. They had people tracking them from above, people attempting to track him from below and people tracking him from the air. They could have taken away people from those three facets, but it would have stretched the search even more thin.

    Regarding the “ego’s” at the command site.. We weren’t there so we won’t know. I do know that Mr. Kim was there for an extended period of time, If there was in-fighting, I think we would have known about it. I have said several times that I think it took too long to get the organized search going -this is a result of not knowing where the people are. Jurisdiction in the initial stages needs to be clearly defined. I think if that initial stage was improved, the focus wouldn’t have left Bear Camp Rd during the week they were stranded and everyone would have been found at the car.

  381. I just thought of something . . . . They had a map that noted that the main road may be closed in Winter. They got up to the fork we’ve been discussing. The only two paved roads on that route over the mountains were on that fork. A sign was in the middle of the two roads and had no arrows pointing the direction. They went a ways up the “correct” road, ran into more snow and a narrow mountain road, and they might have seen a sign warning them of the danger, then they backed out in reverse. At the fork, you see two paved roads. One with a gate on it. You look at your map and see that the “correct” road is closed in the winter. The gate is open. You decide that this BLM road (this is also the road they were driving on until this fork) is the “correct” road. I still think they followed that BLM road all the way to the end. Then figured they were hopelessly lost and mad good decision to stay put and stay alive.

  382. D.H. – I see the writer’s disingenuity in the way she says the BLM road is clearly the wrong choice because it has no guard rails and no signs. The forest service road doesn’t either. The “left turn” is the obvious correct choice because there are signs saying go left (which are much more significant than the writer lets on) not because of any perceived difference in safety. The FS23 portion of the road is narrower than the BLM road. My recollection (and I haven’t driven it since summer of 2005 & that was in the other direction) is that the FS portion of the road is 1 lane with turnouts where as the BLM portion is more like 1.5 lanes wide without turnouts and no striping. The FS portion of the road has a white fog line on both sides (no shoulder) where as the BLM road doesn’t. The FS23 section looks like a different road – and it is a different road.

    I haven’t driven the BLM road beyond the intersection. My state road atlas (which is accurate for every road I’ve ever been on around here) shows the BLM pavement continuing for about 10 miles. Whether it narrows after the intersection – I don’t know. I’d like to go up there and see for myself this spring.

  383. Jason – There are signs saying the coast is to the left and (I believe) saying “WRONG WAY” on the road they took.. but I can see where someone might who was out of his element might follow your line of thinking. We’ll probably never know.

  384. Snowmobiles should have been deployed very early on. Spencer’s post is right on. I agree that SAR did a heroic job in that canyon. You just coudn’t predict that it would be so impassable and that James would get down by the mouth of the intersection of the river and creek.

    But the best thing for that area to me is a couple of volunteer snowmobiles. If they would have talked to the one snowmobiler that went on those road, the owner of the Black Bar Lodge, they would have had good information. On a snowmobile you can cover a lot of ground very fast.

  385. Spencer, I would love to see those signs. Can you get a video of them? Is it possible to see the signs in the snow?

    And whoever the authorities are up here, be they federal or state, can we please fix this problem? Lots of people are getting confused and dying up here. Let’s just solve this.

  386. I don’t think anyone is ‘ignoring’ the mistakes made my the Kims. I think the point is, they were honest misjudgements and mistakes any of us could have made in the same situation – there are several times in my life that I look back on and think, how did I make it out of this or that, what on earth was I THINKING – did I loose my brain, my good judgement? Very few people set out to travel well prepared for emergency. Many people travel at night with young kids – the kids sleep instead of spending hours bouncing – not literally – around the inside of a car. If you’ve ever traveled in a snow storm, you’re lucky if you can see ONE foot in front of you. I think what people identify with – I remember the time I did this or that stupid thing and got out of it OK, when it could’ve been so much worse. James and his wife did not put their kids in a barrel and over the the side of Niagra Falls with the thoughts of, if we don’t make it, they’ll resuce us. It was HONEST to human mistakes and misjudgements. To surive as long as they did with what little the had, with two such young children, I think was amazing. And you can see from the distance, especially given the terrain and weather, that James traveled, he was desperate and determined and I think to ignore their efforts – which were heroic in my opinion, and simply bash & blame them for human mistakes is sad. Yes, we can learn from their mistakes. But few will. Humans are flawed creatures. If we weren’t, there would be no need for organizations such as SAR. What the Kims did and didn’t do is done and over, and abeit, there are lessons learned, but there’s nothing to be done to change that, but there are things that can be learned by the authories. SAR is designed to help us flawed humans, and abeit they are allowed their mistakes as we as they are only human also, but they are trained, this is their job and some mistakes that apparently were made should NEVER have been made by trained in search & rescue. Regarding so many leads coming in – the most important lead came from a person who knew the area, had facts – reported the facts TWICE to someone in authority and was ignored to me is just amazing. This is the one fact in all that bothers me the most.

  387. And thanks Spencer. You’re the first person, even among reporters, that have indicated that the BLM road is paved for ten miles. Why haven’t we seen this information before?

  388. Spencer,

    You’re the first person, reporter or otherwise, to note that the BLM road is paved for ten miles! Why can’t they report this basic fact?

  389. Has everyone here signed up to be on a SAR team in the future? Will you all be applying? I would hope so.

  390. Hi Jake,

    We are trying to create an online resource that can enlist the help of countless volunteers to provide local information, process and anaylze data. We hope to have cooperation of local LE and SAR but probably in the beginning we will probably just be helping families and their private efforts.

    It is going to take some time for us to be effective.

  391. I was always under the impression that these SAR teams were composed of trained individuals from local law enforcement and other first responder types. I wasn’t aware that there were stand-by organizations of volunteers.

  392. Depends on the emergency response structure. I was part of a volunteer fire department and SAR was volunteer as well. I have seen in areas that share resources across a region as well – they used to call them mutual aid.

    It has been a while for me though… 🙂

  393. Mel,

    Was the team trying to enter the mouth of the creek not dropped off by boat? Class six rapids right there? If it was helicopter then they should have been dropped off past the obstructions. Others have said its too steep to descend from the ridge.

  394. (455)
    I believe that fact is pretty well documented from multiple media sources.

    If I remember correctly Kati also stated they did not use an online map even though they had two laptops with them.

    I remember seeing a presser with LEO showing the actual map they used and remember they found part of the map while searching for James down in the creek area.

  395. SAR in my area (San Francisco bay area) are unpaid volunteers who pay for much of their own equipment, including pagers, and go through required training of various kinds. Within the SAR they form specialized teams of people with advanced skills. I would guess most of these people are with military, police, or fire department background. I was very impressed about what I read about the group.

  396. Life is unfair. That is a fact. Death, at such a time of life for James Kim, even more so. I never get involved in message boards but i have been captivated since the story unfolded. This forum has been the best source of information and i thank Joe and all the posters for their contributions and the hard work and thought they are using toward a better outcome in the future (especially Mapper, Mel, Glenn, Jason, Spencer and of course Joe – but everyone posting except that BP and Ghostwhatever Guy). This is truly where James legacy can be carried forth, as well as with his children. Your efforts in his name could save literally 100’s of people in the future (although just one would make it all worth it to me). We need to focus on improving the process of SAR and particularly in those few remaining remote areas in our country.

    I identified with the Kims. Sure i live on the plains, not fashionable SF, I am older (46) than they are too. But they were very much like people i know, or would like to know. people who are young and vibrant and dedicated and caring people. Smart, interesting, college educated, technologically savvy. Hip. They are a beautiful family i would be glad to have them as friends. But i think their ordeal is so captivating for me because it points to how insulated we do feel from mother nature. And then how suprised we are by her force. I think some of the outrage over Katrina and the devastation she caused was the same phenomenon – this cant be happening. Someone must do something. Who do we call about this? How do we prevent this? Fact is, you cant – not really. We all need to understand we are ever so thinly insulated from mother nature and from possible tragedy when we take her for granted. People in new orleans took her for granted, although denial might be a better description, despite the warnings and table top exercises that pointed to utter disaster. Still it happened and people suffered greatly; they are still suffering. The governement was blamed and their response could have been better. But this was the biggest disaster in 100 years for which no one was truly prepared, least of all New Orleans and city planners/government who were THERE and had the greatest responsibility to do so. The SAR teams are being blamed now and that seems silly. They are heroes. Are they blamed for mother nature? She does what she does and we just need to get out of the way. (On the plains that works every time!) That is what is so human and heartwrenching about this story, they didnt do anything wrong. They didnt know to just get out of the way. I doubt they fully realized how much trouble they were in until the morning of Monday. By then it was too late to rectify any of their decisions, made in the blinding snow late at night in the mountains under the pressure of two small babies and the need to get somewhere. Anywhere. They were not prepared for what they had to then endure. Had they had the equipment/supplies the armchair survivalists are saying they needed, then what? Would james have stayed with the car? Would there have been a different outcome? Would they still be sitting there?

    The climbers who are missing on Mt. Hood are a different story entirely, for me. They PLANNED to remove the “insulation” from mother nature, that was their intent in hiking up a mountain in late fall/winter. I have less sympathy for them and more for the SAR teams that are now risking their lives to rescue the hikers. That kind of rescue leave a bad taste in my mouth, as opposed to the Kims who were innocently traveling and had no plans (literally) to remove their insulation from the weather, elements, earth. The climbers are seeking out the “thrill” of survival and to pit themselves against nature. It is life or death if they planned incorrectly and they knew that going in. It is the classic (Hu)Man vs. Nature story, and is as old as humans im sure. But I do not have a good feeling about those hikers chances.

    Of concern are the mistakes made by the paid and trained coordinator of the SAR operations. Dismissing, if that is what happened, the input from locals like the Black Bar Lodge owner and the Burger King tycoon in his private chopper is difficult to understand. Maybe that woman will lose her job; maybe she didnt see it then the way everyone else does NOW. But she is going to have to live with this and the decisions she made or didnt make. We all do. That is a fact.

  397. From the CNN video of the junction of 23 and BLM roads, it is very easy to see how many take the wrong road. Both are paved, and the BLM road is wider.

    There is a sign in the middle of the fork that says 23, BLM road, etc, but there are no arrows to specify which direction is 23 and which is BLM. There is a tiny additional sign the says “coast” that is placed slightly to the left of the sign post.

    There are crude spray painted letterings on the road surfaces that say “COAST” and “WRONG WAY” that were added by the lodge owner, but they were probably covered by snow and even if not would probably not be noticed at night.

  398. For those who have not viewed the CNN video that accompanies the article on the road, it gives you a good sense of how primitive it is. It also features prominently the 3 large yellow signs that warn of snow 10 miles ahead that they passed well before they got into trouble:


    RE: Post 420 by Roy: spreading scarce resources too thin; danger to the participants; danger to the pilots; there are a host of reasons this is not as easy as you make it out to be. They realized too late in the day how glacially slow their progress would be down the drainage. They thought they would catch up with him when, sadly, he probably already was dead by the time they found Kati.

    RE: Post 440 by Spencer: a good, balanced counterpoint to many of the criticisms lobbed at the SARs folks. So much of the criticism is so easy in hindsight.

    Post 453: Black Bar is a Class 3 rapid with two parts: upper and lower, not a Class 6, which would be an impassable death sentence. These rapids are below where Big Windy Creek flows into the Rogue. There are several Class 2 rapids immediately above the confluence.

    It seems the most critical mistake may have been the Sara Rubrecht communication breakdown. However, we only know what has been reported. Was it a miscommunication ?…a misunderstanding ?…were there SO many tips coming in from so many sources that this one got overlooked ? Was there a subsequent tip from another source that muddied the water ?

    I think it is unfair to judge one way or the other until we have heard the other side of the story. I’m not sure if we ever will now that the media frenzy has abated.

  399. Yes, there is a sign when you head up 23 at the intersection but, as you can see from the vid in post 85, there is not a warning sign to the right of the intersection on 34-8-36. Again, it is not the lack of a sign that caused this tragedy. It is however A VERY GOOD IDEA TO PUT A BIG SIGN ON 34-8-36 AT THIS INTERSECTION.

  400. There’s a good chance the snow level is going to drop late this week, predictions are for snow on the Valley floor on Friday. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll see if I can get up there and take sequential photos of the signs from the base Galice to the intersection.

    Needless to say, if there is snow below 2,000 feet, I’m not going up there.

  401. I’m preparing for pacnwer to yell at us in bold face and to make his point in italics, as if that will change my mind.

    sorry dont mean to jump to conclusions.

    I know not all people who live in southern oregon are unsophisticated in cities, and that not all people who who grew up in the midwest or east are clueless on a mountain.

    But, its hard for me to not think of the scenario….say some of you that are so critical of the kims…if you were in chicago and got off in a bad neihborhood and got car jacked or mugged.

    well I would still have sympathy for you, but I would sure know where not to stop for gas. But there is no way to put that on the map or communicate it appropriatley. I wouldn’t blame it on you for putting yourself in danger.

    Local knowledge means a lot and you cannot assume people who are travelling through your area are going to really know what they are doing. But you can’t stop them, you can only try to put up a few bright yellow signs, maybe a few more, thanks, and try to make a few better maps. its a learning experience. I also liked the idea of placing “you are here” maps in the forest. is that really so hard? no, its not. are there vandals? sure, done that myself when I Was 12. But, still, one “you are here” map could have saved james, he might have found shelter, atleast.

    Anyway, to a poster above, yes it is a bit different to me too when climbers tempt fate on mt. hood in december. I do hope they make it out though.

  402. I left comment #400 about the Kims’ negligence, and it drew some responses. This will quote from some of those responses and answer them.

    The Kims made bad decisions – there were decisions that I will never understand and there were decisions that may be downright ignorant and dangerous. I don’t think anyone is forgetting those mistakes. (#402)

    PacNWer, do you think any of that is news to any of us or Kati Kim? You don’t think she is completely overwhelmed with regret and retracing her foot steps over and over and over? I think all of us, from the most compassionate on, have acknowledge the mistakes they made. I’m not sure what your ultimate point is. (#409)

    I don’t think anyone is ‘ignoring’ the mistakes made my the Kims. #439

    Given that my comment #400 concerned the commentary in this message thread prior to my leaving it, I think it’s only logical that I should examine the comments prior to then. I went back and did that a second time last night, and found that no one made any comments here about the Kims’ misjudgments prior to posting #221.

    But, by that point, there had been five postings calling James Kim a “hero.” There were 10 posts criticizing the SAR efforts including six of them that were quite pointed to the point of this truly ugly suggestion by #182: I am convinced, however, that many are infected by a terrible hubris which leads them to actually prefer a failed rescue attempt over asking members of the general public for help.).

    By that point, four posts absolved the Kims of any blame, and four other posts had criticized other Oregonians to the point of suggestion dark motives (#96: It seemed at the news briefing today that the question of when he died was dealt with very superficially and I almost got the impression the coroner may have left this estimate off on purpose?)

    In posting #269, and again in #275, a commenter forthrightly blamed the Kims. (Forgive this old curmudgeon, but one person could easily have averted this entire tragedy, and that person was James Kim. James put his family at grave risk and was primarily responsible for their predicament. He made a series of bad choices throughout the entire day he left Portland for Gold Beach.)

    I completely agree with #269. I couldn’t have said it better myself. For whatever reason, many people have a deep need to spread a thick, gooey layer of sap over this tragedy. And God help the unfortnate should who should have not to have the same sweet tooth. That soul is to be cast into the pit by the over-emoting majority.

    For his honesty the one poster was told to go screw yourself (#273). He was called one heartless man (#277). He was told, I sincerely hope you do not have children – your line of thinking should end with you and hopefully will not be passed on. (#284) He was called stupid, mean, both–or just out to get on other reader’s nerves for kicks. (#285)

    Moving on …

    Poster #402 asked, How do you know they didn’t have adequate gas? They drove for about 6 hours on mountain roads and still had enough gas to run the car for three more days.

    The answer is first, that they drove for about 3-1/2 hours on mountain roads, going 40 or 50 miles. In that Saab, that amount of driving would have used, at maximum, a quarter-tank or a third of a tank. They stopped because they were low on gas.

    This means they had less than a half a tank when they started up Bear Camp Rd. In a rain/snow mix, changing quickly to snow as the elevation climbed. Going past three warning signs, with a baby and a young child in the car, without so much as proper winter clothing let alone emergency supplies of any kind.

    Also, they didn’t run their car for three more days. They turned it off and on occasionally, using up what little gas they had to generate more heat.

    Poster #402 also wrote, Also, as people noted above, it wasn’t winter yet. It was late November and when a sign says a road may not be open in winter, I would expect it to have a gate. That’s what they do on all the roads they close in winter where I’ve been. Also, the map doesn’t make it clear how rugged that road is.

    My answer is that it’s winter when it’s snowing. The signs said the road could be closed by snow, and it was snowing. The Kims have been described as intelligent people. This is something you can figure out without taxing the third digit of your I.Q.

    As for the ODOT map, it in fact did make clear how rugged the road is. It contained a box with red lettering “Road Closed in Winter,” with an arrow pointing to that road. If you look at the map, you’ll see that it identifies a 5,200+ foot peak right smack next to the road. And it’s quite clear from the map that this is a twisting path. Finally, once you drive on it, the nature of the road is clear. Again, the Kims are said to be intelligent people.

    #404 wrote, PacNWer, You are correct in your assessment of the mistakes that the Kims made up to the point of becoming snow bound. There are many aspects to this story and many people are discussing the “before stuck” and the “after stuck” here. Maybe this thread should be split up into multiple categories in debriefing this tragedy so the individuals such as yourself can stay within the topic of “before stuck”. Then you will not get frustrated with the “after stuck” discusion. I choose to comment on the “after stuck” as a way to potentially benefit future SAR efforts in this area and also strive for better signage at an intersection were many many people take the wrong route (all year long). I posted a video of the intersection in an earlier comment.

    I have nothing but praise for #404’s level-headed comment. He comes at it from a somewhat different angle than I do, yet I completely agree with everything he wrote.

    Poster #405 is a different story (and no, I am not going to comment on each and every post, it just happens that I’ve got things to say about a few of them clumped together). He writes:

    I think it should be said that a man should not necessarily be condemned for a mistake(s) he has made but what he does afterward. Now I am not suggesting people should be left off for their mistakes but should be judged by their actions. In that regard James Kim is a true hero for his countless selfless acts. Let’s not forget he paid dearly for his mistakes and his family will spend the rest of their lives thinking about how their son, husband and father had a horrific journey to death. So beating up on James Kim doesn’t serve anybody anything. To me there is nothing to be learned from it.

    My answer is that no one, not even me, is “condemning” the Kims. They are human beings, and humans are fallible. What I am some others are doing is calling B.S. on this sticky, sappy “hero” stuff. James Kim was not a hero. He was a desperate man who died trying to undo the mistakes made by he and his wife’s negligence. That doesn’t make him a hero, or selfless.

    As for “beating up” not serving anybody anything, I find it interesting that, prior to my post #400, there were 17 posts (some quite vicious) “beating up” on the SAR efforts — which, I might add, were mainly volunteer — and another four criticizing other Oregonoans, versus only four critical of the Kims. And when one poster criticized the Kims, he drew seven posts criticizing him for being critical, including several very nasty posts from this compassionate crowd.

    Six posts prior to my #400 completely absolved the Kims of any responsibility for their actions, and seven posts called the negligent James Kim a “hero.”

    Poster #417 writes:

    Negligence is a strong charge. Your scenario is filled with assumptions. Lets assume your story about them getting a map in Wilsonville and not gassing up after that is true. The report where they got a map in Wilsonville had them leaving at 130 pm. They stopped for the night a 2 am, deep in the mountains, with at least 6000 feet of elevation change. Wow, 12 hours of travel on one tank of gas! Plus enough to run the engine for 3 more days. I got to get me one of those Saabs. Energy crisis solved.

    Anyway, the Chamber of commerce story was later said to be false by the State Police. Which means the story about a Chamber of Commerce employee specifically warning them against Bear Camp Road….way way up in Wilsonville (one know-it-all employee) was a crock.

    There are conflicting accounts of where they got the ODOT map. One story says in Wilsonville, and gives a named attribution to a warning. It doesn’t take a “know-it-all” to give such a warning, by the way. Other articles have quoted Oregon highway officials saying that they actively discourage use of Forest Service routes at this time of year; it is entirely plausible that the Kims would have gotten that verbal warning in Wilsonville.

    In any case, even without the disputed verbal warning, there were plenty of others. One was printed right on the map itself. Three others were on signs along the route. And another one would have been implied by the weather forecasts. Finally, to drive a car you have to look out your window, and as they drove up Bear Creek Road there were white flakes coming down. Again, the Kims have been described as intelligent people.

    They didn’t run the engine for 12 hours. It takes about 3 hours to drive from Portland to Roseburg. Another hour or so to the bottom of Bear Camp Rd. From there, they drove for 3-1/2 more hours until stopped for the night, low on gas. That’s 7-1/2 hours of driving. And they didn’t run the car for three more days. They ran it occasionally.

    But there are some good questions embedded in post #417. First, how did they spend that day prior to arriving in Roseburg? Second, did they stop at the Chamber of Commerce in Wilsonville, or not? Third, did they get a verbal warning there about Forest Service roads? Fourth, when did they get gas? There are incomplete and/or conflicting accounts on several of those points.

    I’d like to hear what Mrs. Kim has to say about them. I’d also like to know what they said to each other about the route and the weather. I’d like to know when they decided to take Bear Camp Rd. instead of Hwy. 42, and why they didn’t turn around when they saw those signs, given that it was snowing as they climbed up that road.

    I’m okay with analyzing the SAR performance, but I think it’s essential to ask Mrs. Kim some more detailed questions about what let them to Bear Camp Road to begin with. And I do think that the Oregon authorities should be billing the Kim estate for the cost of the government involvement in the SAR.

    Finally, an answer to post #412, who wrote:

    But I think your oversimplifying the facts, its not so one-dimensional. Yes they made mistakes but you make it sound almost intentional. I believe there is a chance they didn’t see some of those signs (the snow). Try to put yourself in the place of someone who is not accustomed to that kind of wildnerness or the area. …

    whatever, I just know it doesn’t do any good to punish them any further.

    Its not all as black and white as you are saying. No one is to blame, but we can all talk about how these things can be improved when they do happen, and as we have seen today, they will happen again. Do we let them sit there and die? Judge them and punish them? or do we talk and try to understand, learn and come up with suggestions that might eventually help?

    The various elements of this are complex. They always are. And there will always be loose ends. That’s the nature of events. But detail can’t be allowed to obscure essential truth, which is that the Kims had no business being on that road. It was marked as closed in snow, which was falling outside the car. They didn’t have enough gas. No warm clothing. No emergency kit. And a baby and a young child were there.

    At a very basic level, the Kims were irresponsible and negligent. This does not make them monsters to be condemned. It makes them fallible human beings who failed. At the very least, it excludes James Kim from the “hero” category. His friends and over-emoting “compassionate” observers don’t want to hear that. I understand. The truth hurts. But that’s not a reason to bury it.

    As for “punishment,” well, plenty of people are willing to “punish” the SAR teams. And to a degree, they should. If analysis identifies failures that can be corrected, the analysis should be done. Same for the Kims. The tragedy can’t be undone, but if other travelers get the message to use their common sense and to take the Pacific NW wilderness seriously — unlike the Kims — then that’s worthwhile, too.

  403. mapper, you’ll be happy to know that I used italics for everyone else’s points, not my own. Did you notice that?

  404. Again, I really appreciate Joe and everyone else for a generally constructive blog aimed to understand and learn from the events leading to the death of James Kim.

    But like others, I am not sure to what extent media accounts can be trusted. I am more interested in a discussion based as much as possible on verifiable facts. For example, a photo showing the sign at the critical intersection of Forest Route 23 and BLM 34-8-36 is useful. But comments based on media reports of what Kati, who must have been tired and/or upset at the time, might have said about what happened should be taken with a grain of salt. IN particular, I am not yet persuaded that the Kims ever continued down Forest Route 23, media reports of what Kati remembered after being stranded a week notwithstanding. It just doesn’t make sense that they would knowingly drive miles and miles down the wrong raod if they knew it was the wrong road.

    I think it would be useful to organize what we know (verifiable facts, media reports, photos, etc.) into a timeline that can serve as a basis for reconstructing the events leading to James Kim’s death. To that end, I have created a side entry on Wikipedia to serve as a central location where anyone can add information to the timeline: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Kim_%28timeline_of_death%29 I would love to see people fill in the information there while continuing the discussion here.

  405. Nope, mapper, just my horrible, uncompassionate opinion, delivered without the obligatory crocodile tears. I have a tough time cryin’ on cue. It’s a character flaw.

  406. Mr. pacnwer,

    I appreciated the concern by joeduck and used this website repeatedly while friends of family waited for any news of Kati and her husband and children. This post of pacnwer is completely bizarre. You don’t really know these people and the news has not been accurate early (as one might expect) regarding directions given. Your posts are full of extreme and excessive judgements and absent compassion for this tragedy. Why are you posting here at all is what I would ask.
    I can’t imagine anyone who hasn’t taken a trip with a good approved map and ended up wishing you made another decision. Most of the time we are lucky and get where we are going or able to call for help or found in time. As with most tragedies there are usually a series of errors, none of which are fatal on their own but come together to create a fatal event.

    Please give your angry, hurtful posts a rest.

  407. Pac, there isn’t really anything to debate. YES. The Kims made mistakes. It’s obvious. Every time someone get lost in the woods, a mistake was made. Maybe that’s why people here don’t see the need to constantly point this out.

    And yes, it is a character flaw to be incapable of empathizing with other people. It’s actually not something to be proud of and can be a sign of a mental disorder.

    I will never understand people like Pac that take pleasure in saying the Kims were negligent and we’re a bunch of fools for empathizing and lauding his efforts to save his family. I saw a lot of people like Pac on the digg site and they just don’t bring anything valuable to the discussion.

  408. (466)
    Hey PacNWer,

    You should have quit when you were ahead. I blasted the post in (269) because for anyone to say the Kim’s made a bunch of mistakes the ENTIRE day is just absurd. We don’t even know what they did that day yet…we may never know.

    To me there are four pressing issues we can all take from this:

    Did coordination of SAR efforts make a crtical mistake on/or about Friday? This is a material item because it may have directly increased the failure rate of SAR and the chances of the family dying.

    Who vandalized the gate? They need to charged and brought to justice. The gate situation needs to be fixed.

    What can others learn from this and how can we better prepare ourselves, the merchants in the area, etc to provide good solid information to travelers?

    The maps need to be fixed…whether they are printed or online?

    Lastly – The Kim family has suffered enough – PERIOD. The kids can either grow up thinking their dad was a hero or he was a shmuck who almost got them killed…my god…that decision is a no brainer and has nothing to do with being sappy.

    Lastly #2, if the coordination efforts did what is suspected…there you will find the real shmuck and that person or persons should be allowed a “get out of jail” card for this. They are paid professionals and they could have directly contributed to the death of a father, son, husband.

    If you really want to talk about people who make mistakes…look at the guys on Mount Hood…that was really foolish what they tried and how they tried it. I feel bad for SAR in that situation – they are risking their necks for something that shouldn’t have happened.

  409. This will be my last post here.

    First, I take no pleasure in any of this. Second, it’s tragic and sad that he died. Third, no one can watch the documentaries without feeling the desperation and discomfort, and yes, empathizing with the people.

    But, once more, none of those things should be allowed to obscure the truth, which is that none of it would have happened if the adults in that car had just used what is said to be their considerable intelligence.

    I will never understand people who want to dump all over those who tried to help these people, and then turn right around and ignore the obvious fact that the Kims were negligent and irresponsible to begin with. They caused one death, and very nearly three more.

    Hard words, but true. The day we can’t tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may is a day we have a whole lot more problems than a guy dying in the Oregon backcountry. Or, to put it differently, if you’re going to cry anyway, you might as well cry over the truth rather than over some confection you’ve invented about a hero.

  410. PacNWer,

    None of it would happened if that Mr. Kim didn’t mess up and get his spouse pregnant and then to think they went through with it and gave birth to James…

    The person who is really responsible for all of this is Jame’s father. Your logic really makes sense now.

    I feel enlightened and can now go treat my children differently – man I can’t wait for their next mistake I have such wisdom I can ram down their throats now.

    Hard words but true – you my friend “have issues”

  411. PacNWer makes legitimate points and it is a mistake to disregard them out of hand just because one disagrees. I disagree about his characterization of James Kim in the sense that I find his efforts to save his family AFTER his mistake of continuing up Bear Camp quite heroic. 15+ miles through snow , grueling terrain, freezing temps in TENNIS SHOES after 7+ days without food ?! He paid the ultimate price, a little more empathy seems in order.

    Having said that, as a parent I think having an infant and a 4 year old in the back seat obliges one to a higher standard of caution and care than one would exercise otherwise. There ARE 3 large impossible to miss signs (see the CNN video). The road is clearly, from the minute you turn onto it, primitive and less traveled. You don’t have to be a local or an outdoorsperson to ascertain that. The weather was awful prior to their departing Seattle and forecasts were that it was going to get worse. Any traveler going over mountain passes, remote or otherwise, should have an eye on the forecasted conditions.

    Yet that is water under the bridge. He paid with his life. The larger intent of most comments has been to look at the SAR efforts and how they could be improved going forward and I think that is more constructive and actionable area. There will forever be people who ignore signs at their peril and who go into remote areas ill-equiped and/or inadvertently. The only way to stop that is to gate and lock the road.

  412. I think some people are too sensitive about the word “hero”

    I dont think locking the road is the only proactive step to be taken (if it needs to be taken at all, I dont know, I’m neutral on that) seriously a “you are here” map placed at regualar intervals on the road could work wonders.

  413. Its important to know that yes mistakes were made.By the kims and SAR. I think thats been said NUMEROUS times. We arent saying they weren’t. What we want here is to examine what can be done better in the future. Obviously we cant change any of the decisions made by the kims that night. If we could I guarrantee we would.
    People are going to make mistakes. I dare say someone in the near future will get stuck in the snow in oregon, perhaps even on Bear Camp Road.
    What we want is to make sure an examination of all the SAR proceedures is done to eliminate any unnessasary mistakes made in the rescue effort. Or if we can make changes to the maps to better guide people then why not?

  414. Two basic things would help in any situation similar to this, an SOS and a Location.

    Using existing devices, services and software the above may be accomplished on a ubiquitous national level.

    1. GPS receiver from existing cell phone. Here is your location, any accuracy should be acceptable. I would tune the receiver to the lowest fidelity to acquire a location. For situations with restricted overhead reception (trees, canyons).
    2. Use of an existing satellite service and communication protocol (On-Star, XM, Sirius, etc).
    3. Textual data format (less than 1k) which can be transmitted in a pulsed or burst mode.
    4. Since the unit (size of a cell phone) would have a low gain antenna, this would have to be countered with a short duration transmission and at the highest power possible.
    5. Higher power batteries tend to lose their charge quickly. Let’s face it; a safety device is ignored until needed (spare tire). Have a port for external charging. Have an integral crank to turn a small generator (size of four nickels in a stack) to charge the battery. Yes this may take hours to do manually.

    Just a ‘possible’ way to signal help when ALL else has failed.

  415. (476)
    Like we said when he originally posted…we appreciated his thought and time of what he posted. Joe even explained it very well about pre-during-post, etc…this discussion is well beyond the here are the mistakes James made…

    I wouldn’t have said another word…but he decided to keep yapping.

    This is serious – the implications of the “friday” mistake are huge. The implications of Jame’s mistakes are alredy processed – he paid – he is dead.

    Now we need to focus on correcting the mistakes if they happened.

  416. Pacnwer you seem to think you are so smart, havent you determined that no one wants to hear your “horrible uncompassionate opinion delivered without” any compassion or humanity what so ever? Why is that so hard to believe and why do you state that sarcastically? And so your opinion is that James was no hero. Ok. Think we got that from your previous posts. why is it important for you to continue to put that idea forth in the manner you do? I was at Cnet today and they remove your posts. Gee wonder why that is? Im sure you’re pissed at them too for not agreeing with your critical and uncompassionate OPINIONS. Its not as much the message dude, its the delivery. You seem niave in your argument and desire to post here and at Cnet. Obviously the posters here are trying to avert future SAR op’s in that area and in general, trying to understand what is almost not understandable. but you insist on focusing on James and the decisions. He paid the ulitmate price for his decisions. Is that somehow not enough for you? Is that somehow not sad to you? I dont know what problem you have with others seeing the valor and courage he demonstrated after stuck? Im fine with you not agreeing with me, please extend the same to others. How old are you anyway? Do you even have kids? I cant imagine you do. Are you somehow jealous of the love and devotion the Kims obviously tendered with those who knew them and even with those who didnt? If you were lost, would anyone miss you? Oh yeah, that would never happen to you because you are just that smart. I seriously question your motives for continued posting at all on this matter when clearly your opinions are not shared and your delivery frankly sucks.

    Do you know that crocadile tears are actually FAKE tears? Your use of the term is incorrect. They are disingenuous and designed to pull in you closer so they can SNAP and eat you. Look it up. It would have actually been a better strategy to use crocadile tears to get your point across. if you had been initally sympathetic and then let the hammer drop, people might not have responded quite so angrily to you. Like i said its your delivery. And your inability for empathy and compassion are in fact signs of a PERSONALITY DISORDER. Good luck with that.

  417. glenn takes note…never get Christine angry. 🙂

    I suggest everyone else here take that note down.

    If I could stand up and applaud I would…but you wouldn’t hear me and my family would think I am crazier than they already do!

  418. Spencer,

    I appreciate your response #440 to my comment #434. My main emphasis was that if the LE/SAR could be so incorrect about the vehicle location that perhaps it was a sign of incompetence in other areas. I did also include my opinion that this mistake most likely DID NOT affect the rescue of James Kim.

    You countered that they always had the right spot and that someone must have just relayed bad info to the media. I’d have to disagree on this. There was video of a press conference with the undersheriff pointing on a map the locations – where he showed the vehicle was the incorrect spot just above Black Bar Lodge. Also, they stated how he had ended up only a mile or so from where he had started, which we now know to be totally wrong.

    I agree with an earlier poster that it was odd that a fire chief , Phil Turnbull, was the one to point out the error (that is unless he is high up in command of SAR). Here is text from an AP story: > and > Surely if the media had made the mistake it would not have been stated this way – there would have been no mention about how it affected the search or being farther than searchers first thought. Another AP story said that: >

    With our technology today, this error has me baffled. And, more importantly, questioning how thorough other technical facets of the search were conducted.

    I have no good idea how an SAR situation is handled, but it seems to me a “think tank” type interaction would be most effective. Have five or more people sifting thru ALL tips and information and throwing around ideas that then could be prioritized and summarized for the leaders to act on. I’m sure you could get some intelligent, motivated people that would be glad to volunteer for this. Perhaps if this were the case, the lodge owner’s report about the tire tracks would have been acted upon.

  419. sorry – part of my post didn’t go thru —- warning to others: don’t use two greater than or less than symbols – it loses the text

    here is the one paragraph that isn’t showing correctly:

    I agree with an earlier poster that it was odd that a fire chief , Phil Turnbull, was the one to point out the error (that is unless he is high up in command of SAR). Here is text from an AP story:

    * * * A mapping error led to the incorrect figures, but did not affect the search for Kim, Turnbull said. Turnbull said the vehicle was 6.37 miles farther along the road, meaning James Kim had walked that much farther than searchers first thought. * * *

    Surely if the media had made the mistake it would not have been stated this way – there would have been no mention about how it affected the search or being farther than searchers first thought. Another AP story said that:
    * * * Authorities have revised their account. * * *

  420. im not surprised about the coordinates. not all gps units collect in the same coordinate system, and depending on what software you bring the coordinates into you might have some projection problems if all your other data is in another datum or projection. I dont know why it happend just saying its one of those things that happens easily, I can imagine people on that end were not as concerned with exact coordinates and reporting them. it could have been a miscommunication or a projection issue when they brought the coordinates into the office. not everyone uses google maps and not everyone uses lat / long coordinates. just my guess of what might have happened there and I doubt it affected anything. but sure it is annoying.

  421. It seems it could’ve affected the search somewhat, since James had walked much further than they thought, and therefore their estimates of where he might be could’ve been affected. On the other hand, we now know he was most likely deceased when the search for him began.

  422. Rem, I’m not in anyway blaming the media for getting the location of the car wrong, it was a reporting error by SAR. 6.37 miles is a significant difference but SAR knew where the car was, they recovered the family from that location (or nearby) and recovered the car and items in it a day later. Getting the location of the car wrong in a hastily prepared report to the media is insignificant – if they had mismapped the location where James entered the canyon I’d be concerned, but everything shifted away from the car once they were found and I think that there was just a miscommunication about something that was deemed minor. I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t take the time to do a GPS reading at the car in the haste to find James.

    The SAR HQ was 50 miles from where the search was happening, and the people preparing the report to the media (Sheriff Anderson et al) were never at the search scene. This is the sort of mistake that I don’t think can be avoided when dealing with 100+ people spread out over huge distances.

    When we’re sitting here over a week later, I find it very easy to question errors made in the haste of trying to find a missing person but things happen very fast. I have a hard time criticizing that sort of thing. I haven’t seen anything that would bring out the word incompetent in my mind – quite the opposite.

  423. its possible to have different (correct) coordinates for the same location, depending on the gps system or coordiante system your using or collecting in, then when you bring said coordinates into a software program its a whole different set of mistakes that can be made if the coordinates are not properly projected to fit with the map view….there are many differet ways to write/read (decimal degrees, degrees minutes seconds etc.) coordinates and many different systems…the media wouldn’t have clue about it, and they might not know if someone had converted from decimal degrees to something else or whatever. I agree that I dont think it affected the search because I think the people searching knew where they were, I think the people that needed to know the coordinates at the time, knew them. I hope.

  424. So, the collective blog-a-thon keeps coming back to several central, recurring issues with this SAR. How do we (can we?) get involvement from the SAR authorities & agencies involved so something constructive comes out of all this dialogue & debate?? How do we prod authorities into action and/or insure that at least some of the many good suggestions made are implemented?? I’ve tried to list what I feel are some of the key issues below, but there are undoubtedly others I’ve left out:

    1. Communication breakdown regarding the information provided by the owner of Black Bar Lodge that could, potentially, had searchers finding Kati sooner and possibly James still alive…specifically, why did Sara Rubrecht not pass this information along and why??
    2. Miscommunication on the status of the BLM road where Kati & the kids were found – was initially stated as being “cleared” when it had not been, delaying critical SAR there.
    3. Interagency lack of leadership and/or authority in the early stages when it was thought they could be anywhere between Roseburg and the CA border.

    Not directly related to SAR, but important:

    4. Better and more signage on BC road, esp where BLM junction comes in that Kim’s turned onto.
    5. More accurate maps – printed and online – more clearly and forcefully reflecting the inadvisability of traversing Bear Camp in winter.
    6. Possibility of gating BC road altogether (controversial).
    7. Stouter locks on those roads that are gated (BLM road).

  425. I’ve never joined one of these conversations before. But the media reporting was not good, so I started reading comments on webpages (I’m not even sure what this is called?). This forum is very nice. Reasonable people with questions and opinions. Some people are a little senitive about questioning the Kims or SAR, but basically if you really look, this whole group, in their own way, is trying to figure out what happened. And from that they are trying to learn. Trying to learn more about being responsible for their own safety. And trying to learn more about the government process when the government takes some responsibility for our safety and/or rescue. Trying to learn how we can make things better. It get’s a little feisty once in awhile. But I would never have commented on any of those other forums I read. A lot of those people were out and out nasty and mean. I noticed the family webpage http://www.katiandjames.com finally had to take the running comments off the webpage. Thank goodness, it was upsetting to me, and I’m miles away and don’t even know James Kim. I hate to imagine Kati reading some of that stuff.

    I think both Kati and SAR could read this forum and see that people are just trying to understand. You can see the underlying respect for both Kati and SAR, and that’s good.

    So thanks Joe for providing a forum where we try to understand what happened and learn from it.

  426. There wasn’t a miscommunication!!! They had it wrong!!

    Since my post I’ve searched both articles and video. One clip shows a dry erase board at the command post (used to provide info to the searchers, not the media) with 10.24 miles on it, the same amount reported in several news articles as how far Mr. Kim walked. Somebody at SAR sure thought that car was at the top of the lodge road – right down to the 1/100th of a mile. Other clips definitely show the car location on a huge map in that wrong spot. Undersheriff Anderson himself is shown pointing out this incorrect spot. Wasn’t he in charge of this whole thing?

    My point: before the vehicle was located this search was COMPLETELY about “clearing” roads and areas. If they were so far off on this location and didn’t have the organization to use a standardized form of coordinates, then that is a BIG problem. How were they suppose to be sure the helicopter, snocat, vehicle, atv, etc searches were not either being too redundant or missing areas without some way of accurately keeping track on a MAP? The MAP they had of his journey on foot was WRONG – this is a fact. This lack of accuracy is what is so troubling. If they were off only a mile, I could deal with it – but over six miles is too much.

    Basic GPS isn’t that technical. Just a 6 digit number and a 7 digit number gives you a fairly precise mark. The vast majority out there use just one datum – the same one that Google Earth and all the online mapping programs use. As far as decimal degrees vs minutes and seconds goes, that needs to be clearly specified to all involved. For what it is worth, the decimal degrees is far superior and less confusing.

    Granted that a decade or two ago the search would have probably been conducted exclusively with paper maps, but now that we have this GPS and computer aerial mapping technology why isn’t it being used to its fullest? It has the potential to be much more effective than the maps alone.

    Ok – I’m off my soapbox – I’ve beat this point up enough. To LE and SAR: I think you made an outstanding effort. I hope you are able to learn and improve from this experience. God knows, if I ever find myself needing your help I’ll take it in any form that you can provide.

  427. I believe you rem. But Im not talking about online software. Josephine county probably has a gis and the maps they keep in house are probably in a different projection than what all of their gps units collect in. But I am not about to go into a discussion on the subject and how all that would work and the myraid ways they could have reported the coordinates wrong or a reporter got it wrong or whatever. If they had it up on a black board and the relative distances were wrong based on those coordinates then it sounds like an issue. I just hope you have your facts right cause I am not going to check them that is for sure!

  428. First of all I liked Undersheriff Anderson, his distress at finding James Kim’s body and not James Kim seemed sincere. And while having the wrong map coordinates maybe never even mattered, it sure doesn’t do a lot to instill confidence, does it? And I’m assuming that in general, having the correct coordinates does matter.

    Another thing has bothered me. I heard a reporter ask Anderson why James Kim left the road, and his response was something like “I hope I get to ask him that”. But Kati and James Kim studied a standard Oregon map together on Saturday morning, and she knew actually why James left the road. So was she not interviewed immediately for all the information she could provide about James? Or was that information not relayed to Anderson? It seems unbelievable that you would not know everything Kati said if you were trying to locate her husband.

  429. rem. We are both saying the same things – we just have different ways at looking at things. We are making big assumptions with GPS, we don’t know who went to the car, we don’t know if they had GPS equipment and it’s pretty obvious that they either didn’t take a reading or didn’t utilize it when mapping the location of the car. Josephine County SAR has one mobile command vehicle – aside from that, they are woefully unequipped. I wouldn’t be shocked if GPS stuff was a very limited part of their SAR arsenal. The more advanced teams from out of the state wouldn’t have been allocated to the car.

    Sheriff Anderson clearly referenced the car in the wrong location, I said that, he pointed to that wrong location on the map. Somewhere along the way, the wrong location was either relayed to him. That is a miscommunication.

    I’m not defending anyone here. We need to find out if/why the road was determined to be cleared and why tracks weren’t followed up on. I’m a bit skeptical about the reports of a helicopter seeing tracks mid week – maybe they did see tracks, but if the Kim’s car was snowed in Monday Morning (and a significant amount of snow fell after they stopped) their tracks wouldn’t be visible anymore.

  430. Something I haven’t really seen mentioned…they Undersheriff just lost in a bitter election bid and he was leaving his post and not going to continue working for another Sheriff…

    Anderson didn’t think twice though to help out and he did everything he could.

    I don’t know if the election stuff had anything to do with the transition within the office…etc. could have contributed to some of the bad communication.

    Give Anderson credit for putting that aside and doing the job.

  431. Once the vehicle was spotted and the Kim family was picked up and brought back, and they were able to confirm that same afternoon that Mr. Kim’s footprints led down into the Big Windy Creek, I don’t think the precise location of the car was at that point a critical issue anymore.

    On one search map that appeared in a newspaper photo, the car location was pinned even at a third location. At the SAR center they had a pilot’s report that the car was found along the BLM road maze at an intersection, and some wrong plots were made. I can’t see how that affected anything.

    The real issue of concern is the apparent lack of a systematic search of the Bear Camp Road area, given that many locals, including the Sheriff, were immediately suspicious of the area. Even from here in California, I sent emails on Sunday to the family searchers pointing out Bear Camp Road as a likely route.

    The lodge owner says he reported suspicious tire tracks to the police on both Friday and Saturday, and the private helicopter pilot also saw tracks on Saturday but assumed the area had been searched. The delay of 1 to 2 days in searching the area obviously made all the difference in the world.

  432. I just wanted to thank people here for a lot of really thought provoking and sincere comments. I also appreciate that people have kept the discussion (mostly) very civil regarding a very emotional event.

    I’m not planning to remove or edit any comments unless they are very abusive.

    Some of the participants here (esp. Glenn, Tara, Mapper) are now brainstorming ways to improve the lines of communication and the data collection during these rescues and I’ll be posting about that next week when I hope others will have some ideas to add to that discussion.

    As more information comes in about the Kim search I’m now totally convinced that it would have been helpful – perhaps life saving – to have had an online database/blog/forum showing which roads had been searched with comments from the searchers and the public, especially if you could include info from locals like John Rachor who knew the area so well (and eventually used that knowledge to locate Kati).

  433. Regarding the “suspicious tire tracks” statements a week after the Kim’s car had stopped including 24 hours of heavy snowfall – I just find that dubious. Any tracks that they saw at that point wouldn’t have been from the Kim’s car almost a week after the Kims became stranded. If it snowed heavily enough to prevent the Kims from moving the car on Monday morning, any tracks they left on the way in would be gone on Friday or Saturday. Just more speculation based on hearsay.

  434. Susan, very nice post.

    Glenn, dont worry about getting me angry. But it seems as though you agreed with my reply to pacnwer, i think i did hear you clapping? I didnt really really mean to be venemous or anything, it just all flowed out of me like water. I do apologize if i seriously offended anyone, including pacnwer. But i was just stating the “truth” as i see it pacnwer, im sure you can take it cant chya? I just dont understand the motive to post that stuff.

    Paul that is a nice summary of the relevant issues involved. I also think there is a technology bullet there, experts need to be called in immediately to see what is possible. The local SAR folks should not be expected or anticiapted to have those skills. They could be immediately proactive though in engaging those resources. Most people have cell phones today and certainly travel with them. But its not just cell phones. We now know satellites can actually be re positioned. I had no idea! But all SAR need to identify who to call in a planning process. Edge wireless company for example, that was pure luck. i think that a friend called them and a gentleman just did it because he wasnt on vacation or anything that day. Not clear on those details, but it was practically an accident it seemed. But critical info. Checking cellular phone, gps capability of the lost, other technology related assists should be more deliberate and immediately initiated for the situation at hand.

    Also, determining leadership immediately is a complicated matter. It has to be fluid. Then even when they narrowed it down i think it was still 3 counties. Then it ended up to be two and all resources should be directed there. Not saying they weren’t, just they should be and no between county aggravations should get in the way.

    Folks like sherrif anderson definately need to be involved at a high level of SAR. Their emotional investment is priceless, contagious and important. Imagine, for a moment if you will having some of the people who are less than sympathetic on this board or others trying to rescue you? I’d rather rely on James Kim any day.

  435. okay this is trivial but it has bugged me from the get go….
    I had enough proof of a “sqabble” among the different LE agencies when I watch a news conference.
    Lt. Gregg Hastings was speaking and he was asked a question he didnt have information about and he asked undersheriff Brian Anderson to take the mike.
    Under his breath very sacastically (not humorously) he said, “you look fine”.
    this doesnt sound like agencies primarily forcused on the task at hand, but instead squabbling with petty things….

    Ill go hunt for the clip so you can see it if you want to.

  436. joeduck,

    Thank you for having this forum to toss around our thoughts. I’m bookmarking your webpage. In the event that another situation such as the Kim’s occurs again, I’d hope that anyone with pertinent information can post here and possibly speed up the rescue of lost people.

    There are tons of backroads out there – I have pretty good knowledge of a select few of them. Others will have their favorite hunting or atv’ing spots. As a community I think we could make a difference with our collective knowledge.

  437. As, Susan & others, I never join in these discussions, I just read them to help gain info, but as a long time fan of James, and the nature of his ordeal, the lack of correct infomation from the media, his & his family’s youth, I had to make comments, to get it out of my system. When looking for a new device, I always turned to James’ reviews first.
    I just don’t understand why, when Jame & his wife’s mistakes have clearly and repeatedly been acknowledged here, why some continue to try to bash him. If every human did everything perfect all the time, there would be no mistakes EVER. You can say I’m not being objective because I was a fan. I don’t care. After I found out more of the details, it wasn’t just about James. So many people have been lost and evidently some have lost their lives in this area that it is incomprensensible to me that the officals weren’t more organized to share resources. It evidently wasn’t marked well enough as it was previously stated the man who owned the lodge himself wrote on the road trying to direct people. It would be interesting to hear from him why if the area where so well marked, he felt it necessary to do that. And as one who grew up in the mountains where logging was done, often a logging road could be the best way if you are lost, even though it’s rough going, you know it’s going to take you back down eventually. Let me make clear, I’m NOT in anyway suggesting that this is the thought James had, or what he thought he was doing, I’m just stating, that taking a logging road isn’t always a bad choice, although far from ideal always. Has anyone thought that although when James & his wife first ran into snow, maybe they even knew snow was on the way, they thought they could stay ahead of the storm? My family used to travel back & forth a lot during the holidays and how many times did they head out know a snow storm was coming, with the desire to stay ahead of it? Sometimes they didn’t and the going got rough. I used to fuss at them to not try to do this. These are sucessful, college educated humans, too. PacNWer seems to indicate that although James was educated and supposed to be intelligent, that some of the decisions he made would indicate he wasn’t so intelligent and I find that just so offensive, I can imagine how hurtful Katie would find such statements and I hope she never reads such statments.

    If all of this serves to save ONE more person, it’s worth it.

  438. Frances,
    I think Pac counted the comments questioning the Responders, and counted the comments questioning the Kims, and got upset, because he thinks we are blaming the Responders.

    What he doesn’t get, is that we all get that James and Kati Kim made mistakes, and are responsible for their actions, and paid the ultimate price for that. There isn’t a lot to talk about there. Who hasn’t got lost or made lots of bad judgements? It’s actually pretty easy to understand.

    But just like when we get lost ourselves, afterwards we pull out the map and try to understand where the wrong turn was, where did we end up, and what were we thinking? So now we are talking a lot about that regarding the Kims. We’re trying to figure it out. And hoping not to make the same mistakes ourselves in the future.

    And most of us are not First Responders. And it makes us feel vulnerable that when we make mistakes, the people we are counting on to save us, are also human, and can also make mistakes. And the media reporting is incomplete and inconsistent, so we don’t even know the facts. So we are trying to pool our knowledge and figure out the rescue efforts. It seems to me that it must be terribly confusing with all those different jurisdictions and different people in charge. How do they efficiently get all the needed information to each other? And even if they do have a really great efficent system, in what ways can it continue to be improved?

    What we do know is that James and Kati Kim did not put themselves and their children in that position on purpose. And we do know that the entire SAR did their very best to find the Kim family. Sometimes it sounds like some people are “blaming” James and Kati, and it sometimes sounds like some people are “blaming” SAR. But I think we’re really just trying to figure it all out.

  439. Joe, I hope this idea of database/blog/forum can be used to help others in the future. Often times, people want to help but aren’t close enough, or able for various reasons to do so and you could have several people share shifts who monitor the blogs and are the appointed contact people for the officials.
    After thinking about this more, it seems there are ways ‘tech’ could’ve helped but as we are all becoming more tech savy, we are learning more useful ways to use the tech in our lives in manners one never thought of before & in manys ways, a realtively simple manner such as an on going blog. Sometimes it takes a tragey to open our eyes to other options of use. If this is a legancy that James death then maybe his death wasn’t totally in vain, however, will always be regretable.

  440. Like many others, I really appreciate this site and the discussion. I also would like to say that the points made by PACNWER are well stated and in line with my thoughts. OK PACNWER comes across a bit smug, but from the moment I heard about this sad story, the series of decisions that the Kims made seemed downright goofy to me. I find this whole tragedy extremely heartbreaking, but I keep coming to the same conclusions. This is a sad and poigniant story because blind luck did not win out against a series of unfortunate mistakes.

  441. (499)
    Spencer…I don’t think the tire tracks are speculation. Two people – The Black Bar Lodge owner and the Burger King owner both saw tracks on that road.

  442. Hi, I’m new here, but thanks for the forum, it’s something many of us have felt the need for as we frustratingly watched the amazing tips being generated on the websites over the weekend of December 1 and wondered how many were making their way through.

    Two more things to consider adding to Paul’s list that should be part of an uber-system for locating missing people: (1) a media strategy to be implemented by the family of the missing people. If it weren’t for the fact that someone went to the mass media with the Kims’ story, Kati would not have been saved (I’m sure everyone here is already familiar with the fact that Mr. Richor read about them in the paper on Saturday) and (2) a standard operating procedure for getting quicker access to credit card and cellular records. If the Kims had been fugitives, I’m sure that the FBI would have had those records within hours at the most.

    On a personal preparation level, it might be a good idea to let a close family member know what credit card you tend to use so that they could know which company to contact as well.

    Let’s make this happen!

  443. According to the Mercury News article linked to in my post #503 above…

    The Kim family’s ordeal began two days after Thanksgiving, on Nov. 25, when they missed Oregon’s Highway 42 interchange from Highway 5 to take to the coast, where they had reservations for the night in Gold Beach, authorities said after interviewing Kati Kim.

    Consulting a state map, they saw Bear Camp Road would take them there from Grants Pass. It was about 10:30 p.m. and as they climbed above 2,000 feet, it started to snow hard. Their Saab station wagon lost traction. There was no place to turn around. So James Kim, with his driver’s side door open to see through the heavy falling snow, began to back down until he reached a side road and took it.

    The car got stuck in a snowbank and Kim used much of his gas to finally pull out of it. They traveled 15 more miles on the narrow road — used mostly by loggers — before stopping for the night at a fork in the road.

    (There is also a pic of the road sigh at that fork in the road.)

  444. d18

    actually I feel a bit smug after predicting how Pac would drill us with his italics and bold face type and his facts.

    goes to show, understanding humans and human nature and trying to put yourself in the place of others, try to understand what they might have been thinking, how they read the map, how they interpreted signs, etc might be more useful than “facts” but some find emapthy too useless to get to this point.

    I’m glad pac helped me to see once again I’m pretty good at guessing how people might act in a given situation.

    Sorry for the temporary smuggery I wont let it go to my head.

    Thanks again joe, and all of you for the great discussion I hope eventually I go back to my life and start paying attention to my friends and job! Some really great ideas here and I also, early on noticed that the posts here were so very different from other message boards.

  445. In trying to advance these efforts, there is a national association of search and rescue organizations at http://www.nasar.org/nasar/

    Seems logical to contact that group, but it should be somewhat careful and professional or the ideas could be dismissed easily as pie in the sky. More concensus would be good to have before contacting them and input from trained SAR on any concepts put forth.

    There is also a national association of counties that has some emergency and other info on it for counties which are often the main funder of these situations. They have a stake in it too. Of course when you say SAR there are all kinds of that including urban, earthquake related and so forth. They are located at http://www.naco.org/ Not all types maybe apply to this.

    More locally for joe and some others, http://www.pnwsar.org/ is the pacific northwest search and rescue site. These guys would possibly benefit the most from this site/posters since alot of the dicussion is of this same area.

    Maybe eventually a “white paper” could be produced that outlines specific technology issues SAR need to address in planning their responses? The blog, maps, cell obviously etc are all excellent ideas and not that difficult really to implement if they just plan to do it. SAR is a massive info management project at the Headquarter type level.

  446. susan

    yeah I thought about this a bit, just the fact that I found this site because I was looking for more information (actually what you said too). I read the news a lot and I think there were just so many parts of this that were relatable…and contrary to how some others feel, actually, something about good people who usually do things right being in trouble (you want them to be okay or help them or hope they win the battle with nature).

    I mean, its not about war, crime, or anyone with bad intentions, and not only can we see ourselves in james or kati I think a lot of us have been a government employee, or a fireman or diver, etc. And then you get to this site and relize wow…maybe we can all make a difference just because we all do have so much interest and the internet was never a huge variable before when it came to missing people, just like dna evidence was not a variable in crime cases in the past.

    hmmm…and then I am stuck to the computer just reading and thinking.hahaha. well maybe that sums it up for me anyway!

  447. This is slightly off-topic but I suggest that anyone interested take a look at the posting I just put in the South Carolina Missing Couple section. Just look at the information, video, listen to the 911 call and you tell me this shouldn’t have been a different outcome!!!

  448. (505)
    It was hard to read any comments by Sara R. that the mis-placement of the found car did not in any way affect the search…yeah because you took care of any chance of success on Friday…I really hope that gets thoroughly investigated.

  449. My husband and I are arguing right now about my obsession, but count me in to make this happen. Joe, have you started a separate venue to talk specifically about how to create this wisdom-of-the-crowd (sorry for the jargon), local knowledge, tech-savy, media-leveraging organizaion that will find missing people, so that others can focus on analyzing the facts of this particular case? Or maybe that’s already been done. I have been thinking about the need for this type of organization since I read the first posts on CNET on Friday, December 1. Thanks.

  450. Count me obsessed also. Luckily my Sig Ot is hunting right now. I just told him not to get lost or anything…trying to make a joke about my obsession. He rolled his eyes.

  451. That is a nice comprehensive plan there. I wonder what others look like, i suspect not that. Thanks bamadad.

  452. At first I was skeptical about the plan for strangers in the internet community to aid in SAR operations. But–

    The goal is fairly well stated as recently as comment 517. I guess the blog operator (and his/her trusted team) would start the site, distill the comments, and provide them as needed to the SAR effort via any published Tip Line or 1-800 line, which would probably be run by a police agency. A copy of the tip would be posted to the blog to keep us all up to date. The blog operator providing the tip would also submit their own bona fides and perhaps say this is the collective effort of X number of blog participants, to show that the tip should be treated with some respect.

    A successful end state might be for a respected blog operator to be considered an ad hoc volunteer member of the SAR team and actually handed information which could be considered by the “hive”.

    I am trying to think of a parallel model already in existence on the net. Any models? It is like a hive working on a single problem. or like a massive, rolling suggestion program.

    Since the tip lines are open to all sorts of input, the responsible police official could just toss our “tip” or suggestion if it were offbase or uninformed. The problem we would have is deceit by blog posters, you don’t have an Ebay rating system to cull out the chaff on this kind of one time effort. Just some random thoughts FWIW.

    Also the dynamics of Joe Duck’s blog has been remarkably civil, cooperative and generally realistic. And I include everyone who has posted.

  453. Unless someone’s done so, I will reach out to the person who operated the jamesandkati.com website, since I’m here in Oakland where he is. He probably has a lot of learnings to share, at the least. After all, this is what he started.

  454. I’m not sure how the connection will be made (With government or authorities) but I think its useful to keep this up, and if something happens talk or contribute what you can in your area of expertise, or if it is in your area your local knowledge.

    I think it might be dangerous at this point to try to over-organize it, as, there is already enough red-tape involved in SAR operations and governements. I think its important to just keep talking. But then again, I’m better at mapping and thinking about situations than organizing efforts. I thought joe and glenn had some good ideas about how it could work too. and by the way I like the simple, non threaded forum too 🙂

    I noticed in that document (grand canyon) there was nothing about communications/mapping/gps and how these things are communicated,and who is responsible for that and that is one of the things we have been discussing and I wonder if that is where some of the break down is, would not surprise me.

    just my thoughts.

    ps glen, yes I think those people could have been found a lot sooner.

  455. This is a very hard one to wrap my mind around and my heart aches because there is a whole stack of “what ifs” and “it didn’t have to happens”. There are so many puzzling pieces to this but my immediate question is why Josephine County, with access to 2 Sno-cats, only sent one up the mountain between Thursday and Sunday, on the main road only. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t have been able to explore some of the spur roads and utilize the second vehicle as well over that 4 day period. (this is based on media reports I’ve read which may be inaccurate)

  456. Hi Karen, et al,

    It keeps coming back to one person. Sara R…I believe she directed the sno-cats, etc…

    Sad to say…but I firmly believe James could have been found alive if it were not for the mistakes in the coordination of the efforts.

    I don’t fully understand the delay in getting things going, etc… when someone is missing and there is definite information or evidence that the person or persons just didn’t take off.

  457. RE: Post 528- they cleared the main road from end to end and then, mistakenly, had the impression that the road the Kims were actually on had been cleared. That topic in and of itself, how that happened, has been a very hot one on this site as it was so critical. Beyond that, I am speculating, but the network of sideroads off Bear Creek is vast…it may have been a time constraint issue, but that is another good question.

  458. Is there any way, given how crucial this issue of Sara R’s seeming mistake is to the ultimate outcome, to find out somehow what her version of events is?? This is a critical lynchpin topic. James Kims life seemingly could have been spared if I am understanding the timeline correctly. I’m not saying there may not be a totally plausible explanation, we may be being prematurely harsh, but given she might play a role in future SAR efforts, I think it’s fair to ask some hard questions on this point.

  459. It seems that, until Sunday when the location was narrowed down based on the cell phone ping, the counties included in the 250 mile area were not rigorous in their individual searches. I would bet that a lack of money and resources plays into this, but they seemed to be crossing obligations off a list as if there was a small likelihood of the family being in that particular county versus a more intense and focused search reflecting a “high likelihood” they are here and in trouble. Maybe this is an unrealistic approach given the manpower and funds it would have required but, I believe this plays deeply into our psychology knowing the outcome could have been different. It’s troubling.

  460. You’ve all been busy today while I’ve been quietly reading 🙂 I still wonder about this whole car location “misinformation” thing wondering if it mattered or not. The question of Sara Rubrecht’s role is one that keeps haunting my thoughts, too – and is more reason why there needs to be a way to let the voices of those with concrete tips be heard above the shuffle somehow and action taken to investigate. I’d love to hear her side, too, because from what we’ve heard without it, she really doesn’t look so good. Ever since Spencer mentioned in post 499 how tire tracks could be seen after that much snow, I can’t get it out of my head (though I’m still inclined to believe those who said they did see them – just don’t get it and trying to understand). PacNWer (who really may be keeping his word by making that his last post?) – whatever. – I hear any good points much better when they are not enveloped in what sounds like callousness, and I still hold with what I said in 314, and Roy’s said similar elsewhere, that I’m not convinced they didn’t maybe get gas somewhere around Roseburg-ish – doesn’t even matter now, I guess, just still caught up in the small details, and that one irritates me when it’s mentioned. Christine pretty much summed up much of what I feel in post 457 – thank you for putting it into words. Simple stuff like Mapper’s mention of an occasional “you are here sign” to looking into the stuff Paul points out and sums up so well in post 489 could save real lives. After what Ann said in 510, I’m thinking that it might not be a bad idea for me to send something to my family with signed authorization for access to my credit card info the next time I head out on a road trip so that I could be narrowed down and found faster if it were me – time is so valuable.

    Part of why I still find myself mulling all of this over in my mind more hours than is probably even healthy and keep coming here (aside from the fact that it’s just so darn sad and leaves so many questions…) is because I do think that, even as careful as I usually am, I have made mistakes and taken risks for which the maximum penalty could have been pretty dire. So far I’ve come through the other side and lived to tell about it and didn’t even need SAR. I’ve been lucky that the “could have happened”s just didn’t. I live and go camping in Oregon, and I’ve had a couple of scary moments up in Gifford Pinchot Natl Forest in Washington, where I first learned about logging roads and how confusing they can be even in broad daylight in the summer, where sometimes even then, turning around or backing up is tough when you can see the huge drop off at the edge, so you keep going and hoping the road doesn’t get much more narrow or just end. Anyway, if the worst case scenario got me, regardless of what I did right or wrong, I’d want an excellent plan and input from anyone who might have decent insight to come and save my butt, and there have been some really great ideas here.

  461. Why could’nt there be a law passed at the national level that SAR/LE head personel can have sort of a homeland security FISA type thing where they can have a release the information…. CC, Banking, phone records ect but need to be followed up with a court order within 72 hours?

  462. just because its such a good and tried and true plan (I think we have all used a “you are here” map from time to time and been glad for the little dot) I have to say, I believe that Susan brought that up and I just second it HIGHLY!

    If you ever take a cartography class you talk about the “mental map” in a persons head…where you see yourself in relation to where you are and you draw a little map in your mind based on what know and have seen, this can be way off….no matter what we think of our abilities!

    also, you can have a map but if you dont know where you are on it, you just get into more trouble unless your really lucky or can see landmarks very well (not the case there I have gathered). I think we all know James was wrong about his location when he left and this could have led him in the wrong direction, I do believe he was disoriented and who wouldn’t be, and that is usually when we resort to plans like…I am gonna try to follow the river.

    this is simple….and I think the cost is minimal compared to many of the suggestions I have seen (or maybe the one that has caught my eye that I understand to be inexpensive). In fact, creating the shelter and (I hope bulletproof glass cover to keep vandals from wrecking it) would be more expensive than the creation of the maps. okay if we take out the bullet proof glass, well, I can tell you from experience making a better map for that area, printing it on 36×44 paper, getting some good sticky stickers for “you are here” could be done in a week or two (thats not a lot of time and not very expensive if you consider labor).

    the shelters or where to put them and who will put them there (something reasonably sturdy to ward off vandals and stay standing in bad weather)…I dunno. but I can’t imagine its as expensive as a cell on wheels!!

  463. RE: 513/Susan: I’ve contemplated that question often since joining this discussion – why does this story tug at so many so strongly ?? Why does it evoke such strong emotions ? A few theories:
    1. Because it involves a family, not an individual. When I first heard about this, there was something about an entire family being involved that had me following it far more intently than if it had been an individual.
    2. Because it involved something mundane, i.e. they were on their way home after a Thanksgiving weekend in a distant city. This is something anyone of us can relate to. They weren’t mountain climbing or skiing or backpacking – they were just trying to get home (albeit with a quick sidetrip to the coast enroute).
    3. Because there were very young children involved: when innocents as young as 7 months and 4 years are involved the heartstrings are pulled; so young, so vulnerable, so precious, and so dependent on their parents to look after their safety.
    4. Because of the way it unfolded: hints and clues kept coming, almost from the start, sucking one in like a well crafted novel. A poor analogy perhaps, but the sequence of events kept ones attention riveted. First the search was all but impossibly vast, then the cell tower ping came in…then Kati and the kids were found, then tracks, then clothing and more tracks.
    5. The hope and desire for a happy ending. The constant developments kept one thinking their might be one, especially after Kati and the kids were found alive and all the subsequent clues were found.
    6. The wilderness: it enthralls us, we love its beauty and ruggedness, yet in some remote corner of our minds, we also fear it for its unforgiving potential.

    This heartbreaking story has pulled me in a way few other stories have.

  464. Christine thanks for those links – we certainly will check with existing official SAR sites.

    Ann it’ll be next week before I can set up a separate blog/website but that’s the plan now.

  465. One more crucial element I left out above – the courageous, incredible, inspiring yet tragic trek of James Kim. Most of us have never gone more than a day without food…imagine 7+, then marching ten miles through snow in tennis shoes with no hat & no gloves, then dropping into a wet, treacherously steep & difficult river drainage and slogging onward….sleeping at least one night in sub-freezing temps, wet and cold with no shelter, then continuing the struggle in the morning,thinking all the while that your wife and childrens lives hang in the balance. He came SO CLOSE to making the Rogue, where rescue could have been found.

  466. Susan(513) and Paul(536/538) –

    I agree with each point Paul made. In particular, the point about the hope I think is the one that seemed to really get most people’s hearts engaged. Once the girls were found, and James’ tracks were being followed, I was sure that he would be found safely that night. It sounded so, so, so hopeful, and so many people were pulling for him that it just had to turn out OK, and I couldn’t look away until it did. Once the sad announcement was made and more was known about just how far James pushed himself and how smartly he left a trail to be found (and I do believe it was that and not hypothermia’s madness), all in such an incredibly heroic attempt to save his family, such a sense of dashed hopes and sadness for his family and “unfairness” of it all and admiration of James made me want to know more about him. Then it was the annoying criticism of decisions that I knew I could just as well have made (yep, darn near each one I could sort of see how it could be made as I retraced the events as we heard them in my own mind) – I kept seeing this stuff with my mouth hanging open in disbelief – this was a different kind of “unfairness” larger than just the Kims. Now it’s that there are so many little details that keep popping up and the questions of how it could have ended with that happy ending for which everyone, probably James’ family more than anyone, collectively prayed and how it can be different next time for someone else or for ourselves. Those are the things that have pulled at my heart and mind. I do think the jamesandkati.com website guestbook that was up and this blog have also drawn so many in, too, because it’s rare to have so many people able to talk about something so compelling while it is actually unfolding. Technology is an interesting thing in society.

  467. Lots of raking over the coals going on here. What are you trying to do, build a case so the Kims can sue the hell out of everyone in Oregon for wrongful death? Maybe they can even seize the homes of the people stupid enough to volunteer for the rescue effort. This is what people get for helping.

    Nice work, techies!

    What were the Kims doing on that road anyway? Has it occurred to you that there’s a reason no one else was out there? It looks like the whole State of Oregon had enough common sense not to be there in the snow? Plug that one into your cellphone and dial the number. Real bright people, those Kims.

  468. This is the most informative info yet and seems to be the most correct. But in reading this, another very important point comes to me which I had read before but just didn’t ‘register’ in my mind –
    Who was the individual who reported that the lodge owner had cleared that section of the road?
    There are five main points which bother me which seem to be mere negilence and the officials part, not just mere mistakes:
    1. The lodge owners reports not being followed up on – he even said they were not in the mood to listen.
    2. Evidently not taking futher action to acquire the credit
    card info from the hotel they didnt make it to – couldn’t
    they have gotten an emergency order from a judge or some-
    like that? I don’t know, I’m just wondering. But just
    to accept we can’t give it to you when time and babies
    were at stake…
    3. The sheriff who was out sick – was there no one in
    charge during his absence to act with the same
    authority as he had?
    4. Who reported the area where Katie & the girls were found
    cleared as searched when it hadn’t been?
    5. There is such a large distance to where the car was reported found at first and where it actually was, if this was a mistake and their part and no simply an error in reporting to the public, you can’t tell me this distance didn’t make a difference it starting the search for James.

  469. I feel akin to many of you, my fellow posters this site,, you seem interesting, compassionate, passionate, loving people…. like the Kims.

    And I think most of you too want to see the truth exposed, whatever it is. And not allow it be obscured or buried so what actually happened can be never truly known.

  470. Just a random comment inserting into this discussion.. I’ve looked at the maps of the area, and I wonder if he had had a topographical map, (or a detailed GPS map), would help have been closer?

    There’s the Winkle Bar airstrip just over the hill. If you zoom in on Google Earth, there’s a structure there. One would think that at an airstrip, even a remote one – if there’s a structure, there’s a chance there could be a radio there.

    Also, on several topo maps and on my own GPS, the ‘settlement’ of Marial is listed. If you zoom in to 42 deg 43’09.54″, 123 deg 49’11.47″, you can clearly see several structures.

    Does anyone know anything about those two locations? Would there be any help or communications in those areas?

  471. Re: Observing…sigh here we go again – this type of post is piontless and serves nothing & the general point of view here will not be understood. We all are just idiots. Best to just ignore.
    There is nothing posted here that condemns volunteers. The officials have been credited where credit is due, but there were laspes made by those officials and those laspses need to be examined to improve services and to prevent the same mistakes being made in the future. And some of the laspes seem to be from neglience, not honest human mistakes.
    As I further think about the road being reported cleared by the lodge owner when according to his interview, it was quite the opposite further questions arise beyond just who reported he said he cleared this section – was it reported by an official or a volunteer – was this another ignoring facts or just honest miscommunication? As a witness to to many volunteer efforts, there are those who volunteer to honestly help and there are those who volunteer just to be a part and don’t follow through on the duties given to them. Just because someone volunteers doesn’t mean they are automatically absolved from mistakes if the mistakes they made were a result of not doing their job. This is NOT saying this was the case. But there are questions which need to be answered.

  472. Glenn – re: Post 509 – I’m not saying that tire tracks were speculation, I’m just saying that if tracks were seen on that road, it’s unlikely that they belonged to the Kims who had driven the road 5-6 days earlier prior to snowfall heavy enough to keep their car from getting out at 1,500 feet in elevation below the intersection. Tire tracks from a single car will not be visible after a couple inches of snow, and if the snow accumulation stranded the Kims.. I’d expect more like a couple feet fell that night.

    Really, my post (499)was actually saying that I was speculating based on nothing but hearsay. Once the storm cleared on Monday night, the weather was clear and cold. I wouldn’t be surprised if people were up there 4x4ing & snowmobiling or maybe the Sheriff’s folks proceeded a short way down the BLM road.

  473. I may need some help understanding this. I am not an expert by any means on accounting but I kept hearing how poor Josephine county was (from the undersheriff among others).My thought was this truly can be restraining. So I wanted to see for myself. I dont know what the average expenditures are per county with similar Specs as Josephine but I see one thing that calls my attention. Last year Josephine county spent just over 12 million on Public Safety Offices and expenditures (and apparently yes.., they did bill some folks…) and that includes the sheriff’s office. THis year the budget was increased to just over 20 million. That seems like quite an increase. It definately seems like there would be room to purchase better locks and place “you are here” maps.
    The last meeting with Sara R. notes that the county didnt suffer as much this year as expected from fires…. Possibly excess funds that could be appropriated to increase public safety on these roads???? Its not like this is a one time event, its proven to need addressing…

  474. (543)
    Maybe you cut the lock – are you feeling guilty?

    I think the Sara R. situation needs to thoroughly investigated – she was told dirctly by the Black Bar Lodge owner (multiple times and in person) to thoroughly search that road and he had seen tire tracks.

    Yes we need to know how that happened. As I understand it that would have been Sara R. or someone being directed by her.

    Back to (543)
    I don’t care who ends up suing whom. I only care about correcting a system where this mistake cannot ever happen again. How many people have to die on this road before we open our eyes? There were several locals who said right from the beginning – they have to be up there on that road – everybody knows how easy it is to make the wrong turn there.

  475. Also want to mention that if in the end it is determined that Sara R. did no wrong then I am sorry I even brought it up.

    With that said given her position she should expect this level of scrutiny – she is a paid professional. She is also paid by the taxpayers. They have the right to ask such questions.

  476. I have a question for those familiar with the Bear Camp Road area. If one started with the thought that the Kims may have taken that Road (a thought of many locals including the Sheriff) and that for a vehicle to completely disappear for days that a reasonable inference is that it might be stuck in snow, how many miles of road on Bear Camp or leading off of it are there that would have been snowbound? And were many other possible routes to Gold Beach also closed with heavy snow?

    I still can’t comprehend why a rapid, urgent, systematic search of possible snowbound roads was not done. If there were many hundreds of miles of such roads that is perhaps a little different story. But even then couldn’t a helicopter overfly a hundred or even a few hundred miles of snowbound roads in a day?

    I’m not really interested in who was to blame for any failures in this case. I think the question is how to help develop systems to help people who might be in a similar situation in the future.

  477. IF the media reporting is accurate, (which we all admit it is not), both Sara Rubrecht and Mike Weinstein made some mistakes that probably turned James Kim’s rescue into a recovery. James Kim paid for his mistakes with his life. Kati Kim paid for her mistakes by the loss of her husband and her children’s father. Sara Rubrecht and Mike Weinstein both get paid to do a job, and there is a serious question that they doing that job correctly. If they are not doing that job correctly they either need to learn how to do it correctly or get a different job that they can do correctly. How do we find out if anyone is even looking into that?

    And what about the vandal who cut the lock? I saw one report that they were investigating that, and then nothing. I have a little log home in a rural area, I’d bet many locals know exactly who cut that lock. Not much is a secret in small towns.

  478. (554)
    Good post…

    You are probably right about the vandal…but some up there will say – hey it isn’t fair that the road is locked – we want access to that area,etc…

    Well I guess the gate was locked for a good reason and from what I understand you can still gain access to the area via other “unlocked” routes.

    I guess it was too inconvenient for someone to travel the extra distance – I wonder if their inconvenience was worth the life of someone.

  479. Tara – Sheriff Anderson said Jackson County was poor only in reference to why the county doesn’t have helicopters.

    I’ve made a few references to that, I don’t know what the increase in budget was either – where the funds came from or how they were allocated. Josephine is a poor county. It has a very small population (75,000) only has two incorporated cities and a very small portion of the county’s land is arable. The biggest historical sources of tax revenue in the county came from logging and mining neither of which is a significant industry in the area now. There are poorer counties in Oregon however I think the fact that there are fund raising events every year to get needed supplies for SAR, it’s clear all isn’t covered.

    I will it’s not Josephine county’s job to put “better locks” on those roads.. That is a BLM road, the county doesn’t patrol it or even have the right to lock it.

  480. Investigating who cut that lock is going to be all but impossible. Many people from around that area frequent the Rogue River for all kinds of reasons. It could have been someone from Merlin, Grants Pass, Ashland or even Roseburg. Very doubtful there are fingerprints – probably the best tactic is a large reward and hope someone talks, but even then, I doubt from a legal standpoint you could hit them with much more than vandalism. I’m no lawyer, but I can’t fathom manslaughter holding up in court. You can bet whoever did it isn’t bragging about it now, but they may have in the past.

  481. RE: 553 / David – They knew from the cell phone ping they were in that area. They did clear Bear Camp by snowcat from end to end early on. The huge miscue was when the BLM road they were actually on was thought to have been cleared, when in fact it had not been, and comments by the owner of Black Bar Lodge were ignored and/or not communicated further up the line. It would take a while, but if you read the string of posts throughout you’ll get a good grasp of the key issues.

    Regarding helicopter searches of all the side roads, they were searching by helicopter. However, it is a heavily forested area with a significant canopy of trees. While Bear Camp road is largely visible from the air, the lesser side roads are narrower and harder to see from the air.