Kim Search blog gathering


Yesterday we had a very enjoyable breakfast at the Galice Resort with some of the folks who made the blog so interesting during the search for the Kim family up in the Rogue River Wilderness. I’ll put up some pictures soon though I only took a few along the route because this set of pictures, taken about 3 months back, was so good.

At breakfast we had Bob Hollenbeck and his wife Sue, John Rachor, Sara (JoCoSAR), and Emily (RogueRiverRat78)

John, who was spotted Kati and the girls, flew in and out in his Chopper.

After breakfast Emily and Sara took me all the way up to where the Kims had stopped the car and became snowed in, and many miles before that where James had made the fateful decision to head down into Big Windy Canyon. Phew – that is a quite a road up there when you take the BLM 34-8-36 (which may be named differently depending on the local person you talk to). This is the right turn they took after backing up from snow on the route NF23 which does go over to Gold Beach. The gate to BLM 34-8-36 is NOW LOCKED on the BLM road that heads off to the right, and I understand that the BLM plans to keep it locked all season. There was a rock cairn and picture of James on one of the posts as a memorial that had been placed recently there.

The pictures can’t really convey how steep Big Windy Canyon is where you head down off the road, and my windy tour with Emily and Sara made it clearer to me how hard it was to get people in there to search, how huge the search area was, and how difficult the searching would have been in those conditions. Bob Hollenbeck wants to take an onstar up there this summer to see if it’ll work.

Another thing that became very clear to me was how difficult the search was made by the false reports of sightings of the family, including ones way over in Gold Beach. This made it very hard to narrow the search area.

John Rachor’s excellent warning sign was up near the left turn off of Galice Road and up into the high country but in my opinion it’s unfortunate he had to move it back from where it was. I’m a lot more familiar with that area than any tourist would be and it’s still pretty darn confusing with respect to signage. That said, we now know Kati and James made a decision to back up from the Forest Service 23 after they hit snow and take the lower road. Better signs would have helped keep them off this road, but it was not signage that got them to take this “wrong road”.

At the car site little was left from the Kim’s extraordinary challenge of facing 9 days there with little food. The fire area had been scraped mostly clear – it was about 50 yards from where the car was which was near the middle of the intersection of 3 roads.

Sara spotted a red package way up in the bushes which turned out to be an emergency blanket that had been dropped after Kati was found but before they could pick her up.

All in all an amazing day yesterday where I got a much better idea of the scale of this search and the difficulties faced by Kati, James, and their family. I can’t thank Emily and Sara enough for a remarkable tour of the area that seemed so oddly familiar even though I’d never been there. On the *long* way back to Galice up and down that windy road it was even clearer to me how James Kim would be OK with the outcome of his personal tragedy – his family is safe and is going to be fine.

New Bear Camp Road Warning Signs


New warning signs have gone up in the Bear Camp Road area to warn travelers of the dangers there.    The sign effort was from John Rachor, the helicopter pilot who was instrumental in the rescue of Kati Kim and the Kim Children back in December.  A lot of people were asking John about the signs and he asked me to post these pictures:

bear-camp-sign-001.jpgbear-camp-sign-003.jpg

DangerData.com blog is now live


DangerData.com Danger Data Blog

As a local I blogged the Kim Family search here in Southern Oregon, and it became clear that it might be helpful for search efforts to have more *simple* ways to distribute and share data, leads, and perhaps even harness the power of the collective intelligence of the huge online community.

Thanks to the Kim’s family friends, especially Scott, a website called JamesandKati.com served as a comment area and sort of “watering hole” for the enormous number of people checking in to follow that story.   Even this blog, “Joe Duck”, became a heavily trafficked news and opinion resource for many as mainstream media struggled to cover the story accurately.

After the heroic rescue of Kati and the children and the tragic death of James Kim many  of the officials and volunteers involved in the search began to post at the blog which quickly became it’s own community.

Input from several experts in computer databases and mapping led to the idea that a blog and database might be created to help with Search and Rescue and Missing persons.  The idea was to use online tools to enhance and help with the search efforts and more quickly spread the word on cases.    Glenn has been very actively working on the database component – more on that later – and eventually we’ll try to integrate the blog and the database.

The DangerData.com blog is a very experimental effort to help find people.  It won’t be a substitute for any existing offline or online efforts, rather an attempted enhancement.    Comments are welcome.

Kim Search discussion page 9


Oregon State Sheriff’s Association Report

(Feel free to discuss this report in the comment section below)

The discussion of the Kim Family Search in the Rogue River region of Southern Oregon continues in the comment section below. Please feel free to chime in.

For earlier comments and information links about the Kim Story click here or at the top of any page on the “Kim Story” tab.

Shaming and blaming and the tragic death of James Kim


Over at Salon.com, Sarah Keech has a thoughful article about the Kim Family story, though I read it as a somewhat too defensive reaction to the letter from James’ Kim’s father Spencer published in the Washington Post last week.

In “Who’s to Blame for James Kim’s Death” Keech suggests, correctly in my view:

It’s not the federal government or law enforcement or the people who tried to rescue him from the Oregon wilderness.

Ironically, Spencer Kim would probably agree with her statement.   I’ve been concerned at the tone of many locals who have suggested a father, grieving his son no less, has no right to suggest that better maps, signs, gates and policies might have kept this from happening. Of course he has that right and his letter was in my opinion quite a reasonable reaction given that Mr. Kim has just lost his son to an unforgiving Oregon winter wilderness.

I know this area well and it’s common knowledge that signs on the Bear Camp Road could use improvement.   Money and priorities are legitimate issues with such improvements as are the rights people have to access to public lands.     A route that would be fine for an experienced hunter with 4WD Truck, chains, winter gear and provisions may become a death trap for a family car.

Here’s my reply to the Salon article:

Ms. Keech you have made several good and several obvious points about the folly of legislating solutions on the basis of unusual and tragic events, but that’s not the big story of the Kims tragic trip into Oregon’s Rogue River Wilderness. I think Spencer Kim’s letter is a reasonable characterization of the many challenges facing the search effort, though I agree the solutions suggested are far too expensive to justify the handful of lives this might save over many years. Better to spend on life saving measures that have a much higher return on the investment of tax dollars.

But that is _not_ the big story here!

As a southern Oregon local and long term resident of the region the Kim Family story capitivated me from the beginning. This interest has become almost obsessive as I blogged the event – almost play by play – as “Joe Duck”.

The Kim story is the triumph of a mother and children surviving the wilderness after nine days, and a father heroically challenging that wilderness in an unsuccessful, tragic hike to save them. It’s the story of an enormous and sometimes heroic search and rescue effort that was well intentioned at all times, but plagued by many of the bureaucratic forces that are likely to be proposed as the solution to future problems in Oregon. Perhaps more than anything the Kim Story is remarkable because it has touched the lives of millions around the world, millions who saw in the Kim’s happy family their own family and the life-shattering consequences of a single wrong turn on what appeared to be a passable road.