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The Loss of James Kim
December 6, 2006 1:14 PM   Subscribe

The body of James Kim has been found. RIP
posted by somnambulist (281 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
this is tearing me up. my heart goes out to the family.
posted by peep at 1:17 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm not sure exactly why, but this story's been tearing me up inside since the beginning. (I know, I know, I'm supposed to feel each and every death in Anbar and Darfur equally viscerally.)

My deepest condolences to James's family, friends and colleages.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:18 PM on December 6, 2006


It's a shame.

.
posted by mmahaffie at 1:18 PM on December 6, 2006


I've been following this story for awhile.

Sigh. Dammit.
posted by kbanas at 1:19 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by ernie at 1:20 PM on December 6, 2006


I've been watching the updates on CNN. Are they absolutley sure he is dead. I've heard the body can shut down to protect itself in extreme cases of hypothermia and appear to be lifeless. Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.
posted by Tablecrumbs at 1:20 PM on December 6, 2006


.

Its sad to think that if he had stayed with the car things might have turned out better for him. But I can totally understand that after 8 or 9 days things start to get really desperate and impaitent.
posted by SirOmega at 1:22 PM on December 6, 2006


Damn.
posted by rtha at 1:23 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by arcticwoman at 1:24 PM on December 6, 2006


According to CNET Kim had been "writing a book on Microsoft's Zune MP3 player".
It's the curse of Zune.
posted by w0mbat at 1:24 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm so sorry for the Kim's loss, but I'm happy most of the family got out alive.
posted by bshort at 1:25 PM on December 6, 2006


oh no, ... this is really sad news.
posted by rodo at 1:26 PM on December 6, 2006


This news has defeated me today. I wanted a happy ending to this story.

.

damn
posted by DragonBoy at 1:27 PM on December 6, 2006


That area is SO rugged. . .in the summer it's crawling with people but in winter, not so much. I just now read about it and I am not surprised that it could happen.

I have been stuck in snow on side roads and once had to flatten a tire to get out of it, then put on the spare. . .but if the family had no experience with coping with the woods. . .well. .

It's sad.
posted by Danf at 1:28 PM on December 6, 2006


I guess perhaps I don't fully understand the situation he was in - why did he leave the road when he left his family to seek help?

I've read he had some survival training, and I'm sure he had a good reason for what he did, but it doesn't make sense to me.

Again, because probably I am missing some important detail.
posted by kbanas at 1:28 PM on December 6, 2006


. (but not for the Zune)
posted by Falconetti at 1:29 PM on December 6, 2006


That's unfortunate.

So for all the outdoorsy types out there: did he do the smart thing trying to get help, or was this a heroic but ignorant misadventure?

Tablecrumbs: I suspect that lying facedown in the snow, hypothermia is the least of one's problems.
posted by solid-one-love at 1:29 PM on December 6, 2006


The Kims made a series of very poor desicions.
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:29 PM on December 6, 2006


What a strangely written article, in that the quotes seem to all have been said prior to the end of the search. Sad, though.
posted by furiousthought at 1:29 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by onalark at 1:30 PM on December 6, 2006


What an awful way to die. My heart just breaks for them.
posted by loiseau at 1:31 PM on December 6, 2006


This is very sad. RIP James.

kbanas, supposedly he might have been trying to get down to the river to follow it to the lodges that are on its banks. Or he might just have lost it, from the cold etc.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:32 PM on December 6, 2006


did he do the smart thing trying to get help

Leaving his family to seek help was not a totally dumb thing, but leaving the road was.
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:32 PM on December 6, 2006


:( I wanted a happy ending - kinda knew when they found his pants though....
posted by dabitch at 1:33 PM on December 6, 2006


To paraphrase Apocalypse Now: Never get out of the car. Absolutely goddamn right.

Sad ending. I feel horrible for his family.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 1:35 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by mattbucher at 1:38 PM on December 6, 2006


Hypothermia causes confusion. He probably did not mean to leave the road. The shedding of clothing is also an unfortunate but not uncommon behavior prior to death by exposure. As soon as they found his jeans, I was pretty sure this is how it would end. How very sad for all involved.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:38 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


yeah, i cannot understand why he would wander into the woods. seems like sticking to the roads would make it easier to find other motorists or the closest town.
posted by gnutron at 1:38 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm ripped inside.

RIP James.
posted by apeiam at 1:41 PM on December 6, 2006


What a shame.

One bad decision in the wilderness can cost you dearly, something city-dwellers often fail to realize. He made many bad decisons, starting with the notion that that a back-country mountain road in winter is a short-cut. He was not adequately equipped to venture i nto that areaNever travel in the mountains without emergency supplies, and good winter clothing.

The decison to leave the car to seek help at that late point was wrong, but understandable, as time was running out. His desperation caused him to break a cardinal rule, which is to stay where you are when lost if you believe searchers will be looking for you. He still might have been rescued had he stayed on the road, instead of wandering off into a drainage; an absolute no-no in survival situations. No doubt he was hypothermic and disoriented when he made that last fatal mistake.

His poor family must be just heartsick. So sad.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 1:41 PM on December 6, 2006


bummer
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 1:41 PM on December 6, 2006


I've been following the story closely for days now, too... I have no personal connection to the Kim family, yet I still have this horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach right now. It's as if a friend or family member died.
posted by jal0021 at 1:42 PM on December 6, 2006


The thing is, they had no real idea whether anyone was looking for them, or even if anyone knew they were stranded.

After spending 9 days without food I'm sure they decided that they had to do something. They would have been starving. The lack of heat, after burning their tires, would have made another night dangerous.

I'm sure they felt like they had no other options.

The best thing he could have done, after staying with the car, was to stay on the roads, but hypothermia might have caused him to misjudge his surroundings.
posted by bshort at 1:43 PM on December 6, 2006


This sucks and its made worse by the fact that he didn't know that his family had been rescued.

Deepest condolences to his family.
posted by fenriq at 1:44 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by figment of my conation at 1:45 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:48 PM on December 6, 2006


.

Why couldn't this happen to someone less important, like a poor person, maybe?
posted by dhammond at 1:50 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


This is really killing me. The picture on CNN of him with his baby...

I lived in the northwest for 18 years. Stories about leaving the car rarely end well - ultimately, the car will be found first.
posted by muddgirl at 1:51 PM on December 6, 2006


I wanted so much for him to be found alive.

.
posted by nonmerci at 1:52 PM on December 6, 2006


That area is SO rugged. . .

It's sad.

Yeah, it's sad, but this guy apparently was more than bright enough to have known of the dangers of what they were getting into when he embarked on this grand adventure when they decided to take the "shortcut" through a road that is impassible during winter.

But apparently he was just as misguidedly macho as the Darwin Award winners we chuckle at. I mean, for goodness sake, man, what kind of a guy puts himself and his family at such risk? This death was easily avoidable as the deaths we read of in the Darwin Awards. And just as senseless.
posted by Doohickie at 1:54 PM on December 6, 2006


yeah, i cannot understand why he would wander into the woods. seems like sticking to the roads would make it easier to find other motorists or the closest town.

The road is really a logging/fire road, so staying on it doesn't do mean anyone would have found them driving by, since no one uses the road in the winter. I heard the thinking of his following the nearest creek or river was that there are several small cabins along the waterways, and maybe he could have found someone in one and gotten help.

Looking at the road on Google maps in satellite view, I'm kind of confused as to why they drove up the road at all once it turned snowy. The road is really long, really winding, and completely covered in snow for miles of it. I know their Saab was a rebadged Subaru and I hear the all-wheel-drive system in subarus is pretty amazing, but I could never see myself driving more than a few hundred feet onto a snow covered road before I would head back. Also, there is crazy shit I would have done when I was 20 in my car (like doing donuts in muddy fields for fun or driving on snowy logging roads) but being 34 and having a child in my backseat, I never do anything like this anymore.
posted by mathowie at 1:55 PM on December 6, 2006


Yes, the decision to leave the car and go look for help must have been a tough one after 9 days and no rescue. It could have ended in disaster either way and 9 days must have seemed like an eternity for them. The real mistake... the fatal one... was going up into terrain like that without proper clothing and supplies.

Please, please, please don't go out into harsh conditions without a way to survive the weather if something goes wrong. People from more temperate climes may not realize how quickly things can go south on you.
posted by Justinian at 1:56 PM on December 6, 2006


I've heard the body can shut down to protect itself in extreme cases of hypothermia and appear to be lifeless. Maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part.

I would assume that search & rescue professionals can tell the difference right away. But survival of hypothermia is usually limited to young children who have drowned in icy water and are rescued within minutes or, on the outside, hours.

perhaps I don't fully understand ... why did he leave the road when he left his family to seek help?

We'll probably never know if it was rational (e.g. get out of freezing winds, find shelter) or irrational. In any case it flies against any sort of survival training.

The Kims made a series of very poor desicions.

That said, I was very impressed that Kati Kim corrected the record today and said they made the poor route choice themselves based on their reading of an Oregon state map.

The thing is, they had no real idea whether anyone was looking for them, or even if anyone knew they were stranded.

They must have assumed people would miss them after 9 days. They were probably correct to assume that people did not know where to look for them, though.
posted by dhartung at 1:58 PM on December 6, 2006


Requiescat in pace.

I am torn between sympathy for the surviving family and just absolute disbelief at how people can just make all the wrong decisions in a crisis.

For anyone else who happens to find themselves in a similar situation. Do NOT leave the safety of shelter, whether it be a vehicle or a cave or whatever. This really is a small world - someone will find you.

Always carry blankets, water, and a knife in your vehicle. One can survive for many days without food. Dehydration and exposure will kill you in less than a third that time.

Many cell phones carry GPS chips in them that can be triangulated from a 911 call - as long as the phone is left on. May not work in situations like the above, however.

This is totally harsh, but your well-being, if you are truly the most capable person, has to come first. By saving yourself, you save the others. I say that knowing that my decisions regarding those I love may well be very very different from my words. Keep it in mind nonetheless.
posted by elendil71 at 2:03 PM on December 6, 2006


For those inquiring as to why they would take that road, reports say that Kati said that they missed their original road (OR 40) and pulled out a map and decided to take this road.

And I agree with a poster above, I would have driven on that road for about 500 ft and then realized it was too dangerous to pass in the winter. With two kids in the back seat, I'd rather turn around and arrive late than not at all.
posted by SirOmega at 2:03 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by Schlimmbesserung at 2:04 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by fredosan at 2:07 PM on December 6, 2006


posted by mathowie The road is really a logging/fire road, so staying on it doesn't do mean anyone would have found them driving by, since no one uses the road in the winter. I heard the thinking of his following the nearest creek or river was that there are several small cabins along the waterways, and maybe he could have found someone in one and gotten help.

Looking at the road on Google maps in satellite view, I'm kind of confused as to why they drove up the road at all once it turned snowy. The road is really long, really winding, and completely covered in snow for miles of it.


The news last night reported the Kims used a route recommended by both Mapquest and Yahoo!Maps. Last night, when this detail of the story broke, both sites did indeed recommend that logging road when you typed in driving directions from Roseburg to Gold Beach.

Today, Mapquest and Yahoo!Maps have been updated to recommend SR42.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:08 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by brundlefly at 2:09 PM on December 6, 2006


The news last night reported the Kims used a route recommended by both Mapquest and Yahoo!Maps.

Yikes. That's some bad PR, right there.
posted by brundlefly at 2:11 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by /\/\/\/ at 2:12 PM on December 6, 2006


the Kims used a route recommended by both Mapquest and Yahoo!Maps
I'm not super-litigious, but are they liable for people following their directions and dying?
posted by kirkaracha at 2:15 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by readery at 2:16 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by ottereroticist at 2:16 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 2:16 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm not super-litigious, but are they liable for people following their directions and dying?

I dont see where MQ or Y! said "leave the car and get lost in the woods"...

also, for James and his family:

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posted by mrbill at 2:18 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by Tennison Tarb at 2:18 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by drezdn at 2:18 PM on December 6, 2006


.

Looking on the map, it seemed like the car was very close to Galice. I can see why they'd think it would be reasonable to walk to the highway. I probably would've done the same.
posted by mullingitover at 2:18 PM on December 6, 2006


Like others, I'm torn by this news. I usually ignore people lost in the snow stories, since they happen so often in Oregon. Perhaps because I've spent considerable time driving similar roads (in summer) and I have a daughter who is almost four, that this one clicked with me.

And, like others, I really don't understand the decisions they made.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 2:20 PM on December 6, 2006


Today, Mapquest and Yahoo!Maps have been updated to recommend SR42.

If you request Wolf Creek, OR to Gold Beach, OR mapquest still recomends the logging road. Even if you check the "avoid seasonally closed roads" checkbox. Yahoo maps however does seem to properly reroute people down the 5 into CA.
posted by SirOmega at 2:22 PM on December 6, 2006


Guerilla marketing for Google...

Use GoogleMaps... OR DIE!
posted by Justinian at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm not super-litigious, but are they liable for people following their directions and dying?

I haven't found any articles about it, yet... just people commenting on it.

However, it seems to me it'd have to be proven that the Kims actually were following directions from Yahoo!Maps, not just that Yahoo! was recommending that route in general. Anyone know anything else?
posted by brundlefly at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2006


I think this story touched a lot of us because this guy was "one of us"- a computer nerd. And we're smart! We know all the latest map softwares, we're so on top of things. Who knew they could lead us astray?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:23 PM on December 6, 2006 [4 favorites]


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posted by StarForce5 at 2:24 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm not super-litigious, but are they liable for people following their directions and dying?

Not at all.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:25 PM on December 6, 2006


However, it seems to me it'd have to be proven that the Kims actually were following directions from Yahoo!Maps, not just that Yahoo! was recommending that route in general. Anyone know anything else?

Not to get all legal on this, but trying to prove either but-for or proximate causation on this will be difficult.
posted by subtle-t at 2:27 PM on December 6, 2006


Here's the video of the deputy breaking down while announcing the death. It's in windows media asx format.
posted by bob sarabia at 2:27 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by LeeJay at 2:28 PM on December 6, 2006


In re: Yahoo or Mapquest liability:
Yahoo:

When using any driving directions or map, it’s a good idea to do a reality check and make sure the road still exists, watch out for construction, and follow all traffic safety precautions. This is only to be used as an aid in planning.

MapQuest:

These directions are informational only. No representation is made or warranty given as to their content, road conditions or route usability or expeditiousness. User assumes all risk of use. MapQuest and its suppliers assume no responsibility for any loss or delay resulting from such use.
posted by scrump at 2:28 PM on December 6, 2006


This is just terrible. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

posted by mathowie The road is really a logging/fire road, so staying on it doesn't do mean anyone would have found them driving by, since no one uses the road in the winter. I heard the thinking of his following the nearest creek or river was that there are several small cabins along the waterways, and maybe he could have found someone in one and gotten help.

Looking at the road on Google maps in satellite view, I'm kind of confused as to why they drove up the road at all once it turned snowy. The road is really long, really winding, and completely covered in snow for miles of it.


I read somewhere -- sorry I don't have a reference -- that when they started up the road they were on, it was only raining. At higher elevations it started to snow so they decided to turn around. At some point they decided it was no longer safe to drive at all so they stopped for the night. When they woke up in the morning they were snowed in and couldn't drive at all anymore.

At any rate, we're likely to get the full story from Kati Kim eventually. I'm sure all the decisions they made were rational given their circumstances.
posted by kmel at 2:28 PM on December 6, 2006


Here's the article that video is from if that link doesn't work.
posted by bob sarabia at 2:28 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by kyleg at 2:29 PM on December 6, 2006


I can't even comprehend the grief his wife must be feeling. My heart goes out to the whole family.
posted by astruc at 2:30 PM on December 6, 2006


Well, hindsight is always 20/20. The thing is: The survivalist experts who couldn't wait to come in here and show us how smart they are lack hindsight, or any sight at all, considering we don't know (and probably never will know) exactly what happened to this guy or why he made whatever decisions he made. I have no doubt that were the entire family found dead in the car, the same wise souls here would be whining about how he didn't bother to venture out for help.

The guy was doing the best he knew how to do in order to save his family. It's pretty unfair (to invoke Darwin Awards, even!) to fault him for lacking a degree of knowledge that I imagine few of us possess. (An urban dweller, I wouldn't know the first thing to do in the situation.) And of course, I wouldn't even pretend that I could imagine the height of physical and emotional torture this guy endured over the course of days, much less judge his decisions under that kind of pressure.
posted by troybob at 2:32 PM on December 6, 2006 [3 favorites]


I just love all the comments from people who would ALWAYS do X, and NEVER do Y.

Yes, you are smart and therefore a tragedy like this could never befall you or your family. Just keep telling yourself that.
posted by peep at 2:34 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Upon posting, troybob said it better.
posted by peep at 2:36 PM on December 6, 2006


posted by peep I just love all the comments from people who would ALWAYS do X, and NEVER do Y. Yes, you are smart and therefore a tragedy like this could never befall you or your family. Just keep telling yourself that.

Indeed. When a tragedy happens, you ALWAYS want to be the first to post on MetaFilter to show you know NEVER to do whatever it was that led to the victim's demise, because you are ALWAYS in full control of your faculties and circumstances since you NEVER move your ass from the safety of your computer chair.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:41 PM on December 6, 2006 [3 favorites]


(An urban dweller, I wouldn't know the first thing to do in the situation.)

I would. Avoid it altogether. I've driven some nasty roads at nasty times of the year all over the country. But before setting out, I made plans and stuck to main roads as much as possible. Theres NO WAY I would turn down a two-lane road that I had not scoped out ahead of time.
posted by Doohickie at 2:41 PM on December 6, 2006


Yes, you are smart and therefore a tragedy like this could never befall you or your family. Just keep telling yourself that.

Realistically, a tragedy like this COULD befall my family. That's why I think everyone (yes, even you city dwellers, who could decide to take a road trip through upstate New York in the winter) should have basic survival training. That survival training should include the fact that out in the cold, there's really not much that you can do besides freeze.

We don't mean to me holier than thou, we're just trying to share our knowledge. I, for one, am not judging his decisions, but trying to let you non-campers and non-hikers know - don't split the group up, and stay put if it's safe(r).
posted by muddgirl at 2:43 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah hindsight and 20/20 and all that, but I think a lot of the "Don't do X" can be helpful if it educates even one person reading this.

Seriously. The Kims made a mistake in underestimating the conditions they were in. Its the kind of mistake that's easy to imagine yourself doing yourself, that's why this hits so close to home for me at least.

Look, I'm a city boy, I was never a scout, and in that situation I'd probably be just as dead, but that doesn't change the quality of the advice. If you're lost, stay where you are. Don't go into the woods without the right gear.
posted by Skorgu at 2:45 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm deeply conflicted about this.

I want to feel empathy for the family: this is a tragic loss for them, and it will be a terrible thing to recover from, if that ever fully occurs.

But my empathy is tempered by something I can only describe as fury at two parents who would take their children into these conditions and these environs with such minimal preparation. Like mathowie, I've done my share of dumb things over the years, but I'm a father now, and I would never put my family into this kind of situation unless I were forced to by someone holding a gun at my head. And I do mean never, because when it comes to this sort of stuff, I can and do speak in absolutes. There are many of us who can, because we have a certain list of rules we follow when we may even possibly go into situations like this, and not breaking those rules, ever, is why we don't wind up on the news.

On preview, I have a rich contempt for people who are saying, essentially, "this could have happened to anyone" and "we have no idea what happened". That's crap. This kind of stuff happens to people who make culpably stupid decisions where the ramifications of a mistake are life-and-death. It doesn't take a survival expert to list off what should have been in that car: it just takes someone who isn't arrogant enough to believe that It Won't Happen To Them.

Whether or not this marks me as an asshole, I'll tell you right now that I'm not one of those people, and my wife isn't one of those people. This isn't being a survival expert, and this isn't me walking in here proclaiming how I would have done everything. This is me taking my practical experience both spending time doing long roadtrips in the Sierras and Rockies and finding or rescuing people in that same environment, and extrapolating to realize that It Can Happen To Anyone, And It's Best To Bet On The House, Not Against It.

This would never happen to my family. You know why? Not because we're some sort of superninja survival sorts, but because we're so paranoid that we go into the snow zone taking water and food for all three of us for a week, our backpacks, snowshoes and sleeping bags, maps, compasses, a 2-ton comealong with chain...you get the idea.

The biggest tragedy of this entire episode, to my mind, is that none of this needed to happen. If they'd gone out there prepared, they could have lasted out the time until they were found in relative comfort and safety. Instead, they went out there unprepared, and it cost James Kim his life.

And for what? What did he give his life up for? His wife and children were rescued without him. He died alone, at the bottom of a ravine, after his family had been rescued. A pointless death, after a pointless disaster: one that could have been easily avoided.

I feel a huge amount of empathy for his wife and their children. I desperately wish this had not ended the way it did, mostly for the kids' sake. As someone who's spent a lot of time hunting for the lost, I feel tremendously for everyone who was hoping for a different outcome. But mostly I feel anger at the sustained foolishness that led to this.
posted by scrump at 2:45 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, we're all gonna die doing something stupid someday, but I think it's hard to argue the Kims didn't screw up.
posted by thirteenkiller at 2:46 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by MythMaker at 2:49 PM on December 6, 2006


How incredibly sad. He was just hoping to find help for his family. He died not knowing they were rescued.
posted by FunkyHelix at 2:51 PM on December 6, 2006


peep, troybob: I would never snark, but taking that route was a spectacularly poor choice, in the Sierras, in November. I've even less sympathetic knowing now that they once lived in Eugene.

A really good book about this is Into the Wild, by Jon Krakauer. It's about Christopher McCandless, mainly, a young man who decided to live in the Alaskan woods for a year near Denali, but did not survive. Krakauer also details a number of other incidents where people ventured into dangerous conditions and found themselves overwhelmed, even if they were experienced. (The author himself once accidentally burned up his tent on the side of an Alaskan mountain and barely made it back.)

It's not just a litany of pathetic, dumb people, but an analysis of what in the human condition makes smart people get themselves into dumb situations. The point is to figure out how not to do it yourself.

Do I judge the man? No, he acted well under the circumstances. Do I judge his actions? Hell yes.
posted by dhartung at 2:53 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by makonan at 2:55 PM on December 6, 2006


THe cardinal rule of surviVal when lost is to STAY PUT. It doesn't require hindsight to know this, trybob, it's BASIC bush lore. Wandering around when lost is very dangerous, and simply is the wrong damn thing to do. It saps your energy, exposes you to the elements, and dramatically increases the probability of injury.

Having made the wrong decision to head for help ( and I can see why he finally did this) he made the mistake of abandonong the only known path to safety. Following the road down which you traveled up into the mountains guarantees you will eventually reach civilization.

Air searchers have a much better chance of spotting you on a road , than in a ravine. Travelling down a ravine in the hope that it will lead somewhere useful is incredibly stupid and dangerous, sudden drop-offs and dead-ends from which you can't emerge are the norm.

But we've already seen that Kim was no woodsmen, he was weak and hypothermic, and his decision-making process was severely impaired by then, as the littering of clothes indicates.

The mountains are a harsh and unforgiving environment for the unprepared. Almost every year here, some local or tourist goes for a "walk" in the local mountains, or skis out of bounds, and dies tragically, within sight of the city.

If you aren't experienced in the mountains, and don't know how to equip yourself in them, you should stay the hell out of them.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Did the Kim's screw up? Did they make a mistake, yeah probably. Who hasn't done something stupid now and again. Who hasn't taken an unnecessary risk? It's still fucking saddening to know he's dead. I am a frequent visitor to cnet and I always watched James Kim's "first look" with whatever gadget he had. He seemed like a pretty nice guy. I'm sorry he's gone.
posted by sleavestherabbit at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2006


Hear, hear, troybob. Even if every person in a desperate situation did everything "right," way too much can still go horribly wrong in a second. We all like to feel that we can be 100% prepared, safe, and rational come what may, and maybe that makes us overly complacent and blasé about considering risks. But even the ultra-wise live in a world that's cruel, capricious, and dangerous. I'm generally pretty calm and logical in crisis situations, but after nine days stranded with minimal heat and water, in a state of extreme stress and growing panic and weakness? I'd be a blithering idiot. It's a miracle that three of the four Kims managed to survive.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2006


If you aren't experienced in the mountains, and don't know how to equip yourself in them, you should stay the hell out of them.

Don't have to tell me twice- I'm so terrified by the whole thing I refuse to ever enter the state of Oregon.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:57 PM on December 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


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posted by felix betachat at 2:59 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm generally pretty calm and logical in crisis situations, but after nine days stranded with minimal heat and water, in a state of extreme stress and growing panic and weakness? I'd be a blithering idiot.
At the risk of pounding a dead horse into glue, not if you had sufficient water and food. Even if you only had a week's worth, you could stretch it to two weeks and nourish yourself enough to keep your mental faculties alert.

A salient point: in a situation like this, it's binary: either you go or you stay. You can't change your mind halfway through, because you've already burned too much of your available energy to be able to exert yourself: by the time you're hungry and cold enough to be thinking it's time to hike out after seven days, you should not try to.

So you either go for help right away, while you're still strong and have reserves, or you shelter-in-place and conserve, conserve, conserve, making effort to ensure that you're seen.
posted by scrump at 3:03 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm still dwelling on this. He has such a beautiful family, I fell devasted for them.

There's a show on Discovery or TLC now called "Man vs. Wild," where the drop this guy in the wilderness (with a producer and a cameraman, I think) and he "escapes". That show just angers me so much, especially in light of Kim's death. He does stupid stuff like make a float out of his backpack and jacket, then ride down some rapids to "get to town faster." In any other situation besides a staged television piece, that's stupid and suicidal, and it gives the wrong impression to viewers. Stay dry, stay warm, and stay hydrated.
posted by muddgirl at 3:09 PM on December 6, 2006


I should note that Into the Wild is an enticingly-cast Sean Penn film due out next year, but will probably not cover the side stories I just mentioned.

And on post: what scrump said. In the last thread I said, between the two of them they put themselves and their children at great risk. The overconfidence disease, we could call it. As a parent you have responsibilities that you don't have to yourself. As a parent of a toddler and a baby, venturing into wilderness is very nearly inexcusable. It was accidental, to be sure, but they should have figured out they were on the wrong road long before they had to clear rocks off it to proceed.

And nature was really the ultimate arbiter here, not any of us commenters. James Kim left the car and died. Because he left the car, his wife left the car with the two kids, but she turned back and they all survived. You really can't get any more clear a judgement than that.

And it need not be said, but I will: I too am incredibly saddened by his death, and have great sympathy for his family.

The news last night reported the Kims used a route recommended by both Mapquest and Yahoo!Maps.

To clear up any confusion, this is straight from the Oregon State Police:

6) Clarification: Wilsonville Chamber of Commerce – information provided earlier of a tip that a person at the chamber of commerce building provided a map and recommended travel routes has been determined to not be credible. Interviews with Kati Kim revealed they chose this route after looking at a State of Oregon map.

Websites may have erroneously recommended the route, but that's not how they chose it.
posted by dhartung at 3:09 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm so sorry; I really wanted this to end well and I'm sad that it didn't. God bless them all.
posted by Lynsey at 3:10 PM on December 6, 2006


: (
posted by hojoki at 3:11 PM on December 6, 2006


So, so sad.
posted by puddinghead at 3:12 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by juv3nal at 3:12 PM on December 6, 2006


Hey fellow geeks, it truly is sad that this man died, but it reminded me of an interesting exercise in an organizational behavior course I once took. You can read the exercise here, and there are some others here, but do yourself a favor, and actually try the exercise before reading through the whole page.

Heart goes out to the kids and wife.
posted by stonesy at 3:13 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


You're not an asshole, scrump, for what its worth. I also know it wasnt really an apology, because I feel the same way. Like me, you're a man who has done rescues, lived in wild areas and knows what it takes to make your way in that environment and protect those you love.

This happens all the time here in the west, unfortunately. Whether its young snowboarders dropping off the backside and drowning in a tree-well or someone pulling a Stolpa out here in central Nevada. It never has to happen.

Please folks, just be prepared. We certainly dont need any more of these unnecessary tragedies.

On preview, what scrump and dhartung said.
posted by elendil71 at 3:13 PM on December 6, 2006


.

just horrible--i was hoping he'd be found alive after they rescued the rest of the family.
posted by amberglow at 3:15 PM on December 6, 2006


Don't have to tell me twice- I'm so terrified by the whole thing I refuse to ever enter the state of Oregon.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:57 PM PST on December 6 [+] [!]


Good, we have enough foreigners Californians as it is.
posted by nonmerci at 3:18 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by Kimberly at 3:19 PM on December 6, 2006


(and the kids are lucky they have such a very strong and smart mom who's still around)
posted by amberglow at 3:19 PM on December 6, 2006


This story has been making me so sad since last Saturday; I'm glad 75% of the family survived, but it'll affect them forever. And the fact that the parents kept the girls alive for nine days with minimal food and heat is a tribute to their resourcefulness and strength. (And in a way, the baby saved her older sister's life, by sharing her mother's milk.)

The thing about the road they took: it's listed on most maps without any particular warnings that it's hazardous in the winter (and even the summer). I just looked at the road atlas I have in my car (made by American Maps, 2004), which color-codes routes. Interstates are blue, major state highways are red, and smaller highways are yellow. The route they took is yellow, but with no warnings on my map -- and just the fact that it shows up on an eight-inch-long map of the entire state makes it seem like a decent road. (A few other nearby routes, like those around Crater Lake, do have "closed in winter" warnings.) I know they had a few different maps in the car, but it's reasonable to see how they decided to take this route after missing the turnoff for the lower-altitude way they'd originally planned to go (42 east to the coast, then 101 south). I read that the map they got from the chamber of commerce up near Portland does label the road they took as hazardous in winter, but in fine print, and that may not have been the map they were using.

This can't just be an issue in southern Oregon -- there must be similar roads in all sorts of mountainous areas, from Maine to northern California. Hopefully this will prompt mapmakers (both paper-based and online) to label these roads more clearly. After all, it's tourists unfamilar with local roads who will be the ones using maps 90% of the time.

If anything, the major publicity from this will hopefully prompt more people to have emergency supplies in their car. I think a lot of us living in mild-weathered West Coast cities like Portland, Seattle and SF can forget how radically different conditions can be less than an hour's drive away.

.
posted by lisa g at 3:23 PM on December 6, 2006


The sun never came out today here in Grants Pass. It's a reflection on how most of us feel here in Southern Oregon I think.
My thoughts are with his wife, kids and family.

.
posted by alteredcarbon at 3:25 PM on December 6, 2006


I know their Saab was a rebadged Subaru and I hear the all-wheel-drive system in subarus is pretty amazing, but I could never see myself driving more than a few hundred feet onto a snow covered road before I would head back.

If they were driving the Saabaru (9-2x) then they were driving a high performance sports car. It comes with wide tires and not much ground clearance. The low bodywork will cause the car to snowplow, building up a pile of snow in front of the car. Some of the snow will slip under the car and then it only takes a small bump to high-center the car, stranding it. Having taken short hikes down Oregon logging roads in the past, I wouldn't be surprised at all if a typical street car found itself stuck fast in the first hundred feet of a snowy logging road.

The sad truth about AWD is that its only real benefit is that allows you to go faster in low-traction conditions. This is great if you are a rally driver, but really terrible for the average consumer. Traction control is what you want to keep your family safe. AWD will just mislead you into going places that may be impossible to escape from.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:26 PM on December 6, 2006


Like me, you're a man who has done rescues, lived in wild areas and knows what it takes to make your way in that environment and protect those you love.
Before this starts turning into a beer commercial with a John Mellencamp soundtrack, allow me to disavow any such portrayal.

I'll cop to being a paranoid control freak who is absolutely certain that the worst possible thing is waiting to leap on him from around the next corner, and that it is therefore prudent to prepare myself as if it had already done so.

But, more significantly, I am at least partially driven by an urge to not end my time on the mortal coil being discussed on, say, MetaFilter by assholes like me.
posted by scrump at 3:27 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


and scene
posted by found missing at 3:32 PM on December 6, 2006


Sure, there are the better things to do in these situations, and the story serves as a warning to know a little bit more about what those things are. I just think there's a difference between saying 'this story shows why you should do this, or not do this' and saying 'this guy screwed up,' particularly when those making such assessment are most certainly doing so absent knowledge of what informed his decisions, and most probably absent any experience that would parallel this one. It's fine to say 'always stay put,' but after nine days in a car with a family that might not make it, i wonder that you start to feel that you are failing your family by not taking some kind of action; is it not possible that beyond a certain point in time, it's worth it to take the risk, given the alternative?

And I imagine that like many others (I can't be the only one, can I?), it would not have occurred to me that you can go out on US roads and get stranded and lost like this. Nine days--and that's with people looking for you part of the time! And then tracking that guy all this time and still taking this long to find him. And I would tend to think that if a road were open, it's cool for travel. I'm not from the North and am not up on the weather and all its implications, but people up North do drive on roads from place to place--yes, with their kids, even--and their population hasn't been thus decimated. Sure it's naive, and one can put too much confidence in the idea that civilization has insulated us from such dangers. But that's hardly atypical.
posted by troybob at 3:33 PM on December 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


.
posted by Drunken_munky at 3:33 PM on December 6, 2006


This is all too sad. I'm not ready to judge the guy--certainly people made mistakes but, Christ, don't we all. I'll say what others are saying--even though I didn't know him at all, had never heard of him, the outcome makes me very sad and that's all I can express right now.
posted by etaoin at 3:34 PM on December 6, 2006


For the record, Kim reportedly had a spare pair of pants which are, presumably, the ones that were found. He didn't take off the pants he was wearing and leave them behind. It's sad all around.
posted by wsg at 3:34 PM on December 6, 2006


Hehe, well I didnt think a comment would make a good Mellencamp video, but that could be cool.

Just be careful everyone.
posted by elendil71 at 3:34 PM on December 6, 2006


b2tr0t Without derailing the thread too badly, I'd quibble with that analysis of AWD. AWD lets you go faster in low-traction conditions because it increases your available traction. You can use this to go faster, or to drive in conditions that are undriveable otherwise, or to have more options at the limit of traction. I can't comprehend how traction control is any less misleading than AWD is, as it too allows you to get into situations that you cannot get out of and go faster in low-traction scenarios. Ditto for ABS and snow tires.

99% of the time it's not the car, the drivetrain, the tires or the gizmos, it's the driver.
posted by Skorgu at 3:34 PM on December 6, 2006


It's so weird that even today within an hour's drive of any city you can get lost and stuck like this all over the northern part of the country, pretty much.
posted by amberglow at 3:38 PM on December 6, 2006


I've been following this since I first saw it reported on Engadget, and I see I wasn't the only one who began to lose hope when they found his pants.

I was first introduced to James through his regular segments for The Screen Savers on then-TechTV, and he never disappointed. I remember once, he converted an old iMac into a fish tank, around the time those "virtual aquarium" screen savers were so popular. He was one-of-a-kind, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who already misses him deeply.

The saddest part, to me, is that this man who I deeply admired for his wit and intelligence spent his final hours irrational and incoherent, deep in the throes of advanced hypothermia. May this leave an impact on others planning on traveling through dangerous terrain, and may I not be the last to say:

.
posted by Spike at 3:39 PM on December 6, 2006


Why couldn't it have been Dvorak?

.
posted by mazola at 3:40 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


.
posted by hojoki at 3:41 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by slf at 3:41 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by Mil at 3:42 PM on December 6, 2006


And I imagine that like many others (I can't be the only one, can I?), it would not have occurred to me that you can go out on US roads and get stranded and lost like this. Nine days--and that's with people looking for you part of the time! And then tracking that guy all this time and still taking this long to find him.
The body was about 7 miles from the car, so he traveled a long distance on foot, which showed he was motivated. That coastal mountain range he got lost in is huge, vast and dangerous, with steep drops. I've been through this range during the summer time, as many people have, it is awesome and startling to be on then. If you wanted to get lost in those woods or roads during the winter it is easy.
posted by alteredcarbon at 3:45 PM on December 6, 2006


.

I used to live and hike in that area of Oregon. Given the terrain and the weather, I'm not really surprised by this outcome, but it's terrible nonetheless. I agree that the Kims should have been prepared and that the father should have stayed with the damned car. However, I suspect a lot of people who would have made a similar decision under those conditions. This man wasn't thinking about his own survival. He was thinking about his family. Strong emotions prompt people to do all kinds of stupid and potentially life-threatening things.

I hope this prompts some thought about carrying adequate supplies and planning for contingencies. This really should not have happened.
posted by Kikkoman at 3:46 PM on December 6, 2006


are national parks covered by cellphones now? can't they do something to blanket the whole country (and especially places like this) via satellite or something, like gps is?
posted by amberglow at 3:54 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by LoriFLA at 3:55 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by Scoo at 3:55 PM on December 6, 2006


god bless him.
.
posted by phaedon at 3:56 PM on December 6, 2006


99% of the time it's not the car, the drivetrain, the tires or the gizmos, it's the driver.

Agreed, but both ABS and traction control provide a benefit with almost no downside. Although some highly experienced drivers can pump the brakes somewhat better than ABS can (or could in the mid '90s when auto magazines ran the race car driver vs. ABS stopping tests. Since then the ABS systems have improved somewhat) most can't. ABS will help you slow down from a dangerous situation, it won't sped you up.

Similarly, traction control systems apply brakes individually to the wheels in order to reduce or eliminate spin. The most extreme traction control I've seen is the Volvo system on the S80. I spent an hour with an S80 in an empty theater parking lot in Michigan a few years back, and could not get the car to spin. Any time the car detected spin, it would just grind to a halt.

AWD, on the other hand, lets you put more power down to the road. Given two cars with modern ABS and traction control, but AWD on one and either FWD or RWD on the other, it will always be easier to get the AWD equipped car into situations it can't extract itself from. The ABS/TCS only car isn't immune to trouble, but AWD will allow you to achieve higher velocities in poor conditions, pushing you deeper into the danger zone.

Part of the problem is also that cars are becoming super optimized for dry freeway use. If the Kims had been driving a '82 Saab instead of the modern 9-2x, they might never have become stuck. If they did get stuck, they might have had a chance of escaping. Those cars came with tall, narrow tires, FWD with a heavy and modestly powered engine over it, and a well-deserved reputation for agility in the snow. Modern Saabs have none of this, but somehow retain their reputation for cold weather utility.
posted by b1tr0t at 3:58 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by jennyjenny at 4:00 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 4:05 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by lannanh at 4:06 PM on December 6, 2006


And I imagine that like many others (I can't be the only one, can I?), it would not have occurred to me that you can go out on US roads and get stranded and lost like this.


Therin lies the problem. This naiivety is all too common amongst city dwellers. I drive a Jeep Rubicon with 30 inch tires, a Dana 4.4 rear differential, and Warn winch. Yet I wouldn't have driven up that road, because I am an experienced back-country user, well aware of the unforgiving harshness of nature.

We do use such fire and logging roads all the time in summer to access mountain biking trails, windsurfing and kayaking spots, although never alone. Prudence on these trips mandates the use of two vehicles, should one break down or become so badly stuck that even the winch doesn't help. Ever notice those tow-hooks on real off-road vehicles? That's what they are they are there for.

Even in summer however, we don't venture into such terrain without adequate water and food supplies and emergency shelter onboad in case the unexpected happens. We also file excursion maps with local authorities when applicable, and inform loved ones of the expected route and return time.

I'd never dream of atttempting such a route in my Jeep in the middle of winter, and I sure wouldn't take any toddlers up one. The Kims had a false confidence in the ruggedness of their vehicle, moving boulders out of their path to continue, and it cost them dearly.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:14 PM on December 6, 2006


.

RIP
posted by greycap at 4:18 PM on December 6, 2006


There's a show on Discovery or TLC now called "Man vs. Wild," where the drop this guy in the wilderness (with a producer and a cameraman, I think) and he "escapes". That show just angers me so much, especially in light of Kim's death. He does stupid stuff like make a float out of his backpack and jacket, then ride down some rapids to "get to town faster." In any other situation besides a staged television piece, that's stupid and suicidal, and it gives the wrong impression to viewers. Stay dry, stay warm, and stay hydrated.

Actually, the purpose of the 'Man vs. Wild' is to educate the "average Joe" as what to do in situations like that in which the Kims found themselves. It's not cheap entertainment, but valuable information:
"In each episode of 'Man vs. Wild' Bear [Grylls] strands himself in popular wilderness destinations where tourists often find themselves lost or in danger. As he finds his way back to civilization, he demonstrates local survival techniques..."*
He gives many valuable survival tips on the series' website.
posted by ericb at 4:21 PM on December 6, 2006


Ask Metafilter: Necessities for a car.
Outdoors Magazine: All Kitted Out.
posted by bowline at 4:24 PM on December 6, 2006 [2 favorites]


Man vs. Wild has been widely decried across the Internet in many different forums by actual survival experts as dangerously misleading.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:25 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by pilgrim at 4:30 PM on December 6, 2006


SurvivorMan also cable is hailed as a more reasonable and risk averse survival show over Mr Grylls show.
posted by Megafly at 4:32 PM on December 6, 2006


It's Raining Florence Henderson -

I haven't actually seen the show, but I already hate it. The commercials run, like what? 20,000 times a day?

Oh, and,

.
posted by drleary at 4:33 PM on December 6, 2006


Regarding finding the pair of pants: earlier today his wife confirmed that he carried out with him numerous pieces of clothing which were found littered along his trial. The searchers did interpret these findings as being placed by Kim to indicate he was "on the move" and intended to signal his direction to rescuers.

Missing Dad Leaving Clothing and Map Markers
"James Kim, the San Francisco man who has been alone in the Oregon wilderness since Saturday, has been leaving clothing and bits of maps as a trail for searchers to track, authorities said today.

'Little signs are being left by James,' said Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police. Various items, including a wool sock, a girl's skirt and part of an Oregon state map, have been found by crews lowered into the canyon where Kim is believed to have walked after leaving his wife and two children to get help.

The items, Josephine County Undersheriff Brian Anderson said, were 'laid out in a well-defined area' as if in patterns for someone to follow along."
posted by ericb at 4:34 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by lovecrafty at 4:37 PM on December 6, 2006


SurvivorMan also cable is hailed as a more reasonable and risk averse survival show over Mr Grylls show.

The show I reference is not SurvivorMan in which Les Stroud strands himself in various locations ("No food, no shelter, no fresh water, no tools... no camera crew. One man - alone in the wild for seven days with only his wits and stamina to sustain him."), but rather Man vs. Wild hosted by Bear Grylls..."a seasoned adventurer who served with the Special Air Service, a special forces unit of the British army, where he was trained as a survival expert. His experiences include climbing Mount Everest, crossing the freezing North Atlantic Ocean in a small, open boat and climbing a Himalayan peak described by Sir Edmund Hillary as 'unclimbable'. He has been places and done things that would defeat most normal people."
posted by ericb at 4:38 PM on December 6, 2006


There's another survival show whose name escapes me at the moment. It's made by a Canadian guy who goes out alone, sans camera crew. Anyway, I thought it was far less sensationalizing of survival than Man vs Wild.
posted by bob sarabia at 4:39 PM on December 6, 2006


I've been in high mountains in winter, and you don't really appreciate how desolate non-maintained roads become in the winter, if you've never been. And 100%, completely un-drivable. The snow can be 10 feet deep on these roads, easily. Nobody at all ventures out onto them in the winter, except for the occasional x-country skier or snowmobiler (and they only come if it's forest service land and relatively easy to access). The temperature alone will kill you, without shelter.

Why might he have left the road? In the CO Rockies, water goes downhill to people (a lot of the time).

If you can get on the bank of any reasonably sized stream in the mountains, following it downhill will quite likely take you to civilization. But the banks of rivers in the mountains are also very unfriendly places for hiking. But if you were completely lost and desperate, I could see taking that gamble (although personally, I would have taken the road they were on in precisely the opposite direction they came in on; he may have had very good reasons for not doing that, I dunno.).

Or he could have been delirious. hypothermia does that to you, even if you just get wet with temps in the 40s, say. In snow and cold, hypothermia was a given.

He should have stayed with the car, in retrospect. But after a certain amount of time I imagine it just feels like you are waiting to die, and he figured he'd have at least some small chance of finding help.

It's a major bummer.

Did the guy make mistakes? Who cares. Even if you are experienced in outdoor survival, it's easy to make a lethal mistake. They never intended to be there. It's just a tragedy, there is no need for blame.

.
posted by teece at 4:40 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Nonetheless -- I've learned stuff from both shows that might prove valuable at some future date. BTW -- stonesy, thanks for links to those two exercises. I just learned something new from both websites.
posted by ericb at 4:42 PM on December 6, 2006


ericb, that's the point. Man vs. Wild is unrealistic and NOT risk-adverse. Yes, he has loads of experience, but it's an entertainment show, not a lesson in survival training (which is what it purports to be).
posted by muddgirl at 4:42 PM on December 6, 2006


Ah, ericb has the show title. Another point of contention I have with Bear Grylls (besides his name) is that he begins every show by parachuting into the wild. And I don't think I've seen an episode yet where he doesn't extensively use parts of the pack or parachute to survive. So the show is basically how to survive somewhere but only if you happen to have a parachute with you.
posted by bob sarabia at 4:43 PM on December 6, 2006


I always carry a parachute!
posted by ericb at 4:46 PM on December 6, 2006


There's another survival show whose name escapes me at the moment. It's made by a Canadian guy who goes out alone, sans camera crew.

Another point of contention I have with Bear Grylls (besides his name) is that he begins every show by parachuting into the wild.

Point of clarification -- the Canadian, Les Stroud is the host of 'SurvivorMan' who strands himself for a week; the Brit, Bear Grylss is the host of 'Man vs. Wild' wehre he visits popular tourist wilderness locations.
posted by ericb at 4:50 PM on December 6, 2006


.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:55 PM on December 6, 2006


Tragic. Heartbreaking.
posted by Twang at 4:56 PM on December 6, 2006


It makes almost no difference what he was driving. It's how well a person can manipulate a vehicle in hazardous conditions. In snow, a talented driver in a Toyota Corolla can easily out-maneuver someone clueless driving a Ford Expedition.
posted by wfc123 at 4:57 PM on December 6, 2006


ericb, that's the point. Man vs. Wild is unrealistic and NOT risk-adverse.

I have to respectfully disagree. I find it realistic. The fact that Bear puts himself into dangerous situations is so that he can demonstrate what to do, if you ever find yourself in a similar situation.

I agree with this review:
"Viewers see him attempting dangerous maneuvers while describing the reasons for his choices, as well as the proper technique for achieving success. His actions are never rash, though at times he takes risks to demonstrate something particularly interesting....With only a few basic instruments, Grylls demonstrates survival techniques and teaches skills like finding water in the desert, climbing out of quicksand, catching fish without a pole, and fighting hypothermia after falling into a frozen lake.

The idea is to provide help to adventure tourists who might find themselves stranded in inhospitable circumstances and would otherwise die or create a search-and-rescue nightmare. Throughout Grylls' adventures, he relates recent real-life tragedies of people stuck in similar situations.

He even subjects himself to unnecessary pain to demonstrate a technique, like when he jumps into an icy lake to show viewers how to escape the frosty waters (breathe slowly, exit where you entered, take off your wet clothes asap).

Throughout each gnarly adventure, Grylls is able to narrate his experience surprisingly well. While in the lake, he treads water for a bit while describing the most common reasons people die when they fall into freezing water. If it weren't impossible to stage some of the show's scenarios, it would be hard to believe that Grylls didn't get frequent help from his production crew. But our fearless host did survive three years in the British Special Forces, where he broke his back and lived to scale Mount Everest."
Enough on whether or not either television program is worthy or realistic.
posted by ericb at 4:58 PM on December 6, 2006


It is a most unfortunate ending to the story. Their survival instincts were truly outstanding. They all made sacrifices and hard choices. It's agonizing. Peace, Mr. Kim.



Even the most experienced and prepared can still meet their demise. How a sucession of small events turned out so serious. The fact that they woke up to so much snow that the car was stuck, after missing a planned turnoff and sleeping overnight on the road...

One can imagine the strain/stress in day 2. Now go to day 9 when he decided to hike out...

One's thinking would be way less than clear.

I'm reading a fascinating book on this same topic. Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why.
posted by alicesshoe at 4:59 PM on December 6, 2006


Okay, my final comment on the "survival" shows, in the cause of public safety:

Ron Hood, the survival expert originally hired to consult on Man Vs. Wild, had this to say about it:

"In the episode I filmed with Bear I came to like him as a person. He is genuine, tough and smart. After that episode we communicated many times and he assurred me that he'd gotten control over the content. I told him I hoped so as the stuff in the first episode was damaging his reputation. In fact I had seen many discussions in the various forums about how dangerous the material was and how fake and contrived the show was.

I TIVO'd the desert show and the "Jungle show". With all due respect to Bear, this is the most dangerous program on TV."

posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:59 PM on December 6, 2006


Point of clarification -- the Canadian, Les Stroud is the host of 'SurvivorMan' who strands himself for a week; the Brit, Bear Grylss is the host of 'Man vs. Wild' wehre he visits popular tourist wilderness locations.

Right, Stroud is the guy I like. Grylls is basically the Steve Irwin of survivalists.

Anyway, I keep coming back to thinking about the end of Mr. Kims life and I'm very disturbed and saddened.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:00 PM on December 6, 2006


For those of you who fault him for leaving the car, his reasoning may have been:

If I stay with my family, I won't increase the chances they will be found.

If I go look for help, I might marginally increase the chances of getting help for my family, even though it vastly decreases my own personal chances of survival.

In other words, he might have known he was risking his life but willing to do so for the marginal help it would provide his family.
posted by vacapinta at 5:01 PM on December 6, 2006


I agree with you, vacapinta, and that's maybe what breaks my heart the most. The worst mistakes were made long before he left the car. I can only imagine that when he left, he had a pretty good idea of what the result would be for him, and that he still felt it was worth the minor chance that it would help. It honestly chokes me up to think of the choices he saw before him then, and that his sacrifice was in vain.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 5:06 PM on December 6, 2006


For those who are interested, you can plug in many of the place names associated with this area into Flickr and get a good sense of the terrain. Some examples:

Klamath Mountains , Rogue River, Windy Creek

etc.

You'll also notice that pretty much every shot is taken in good weather. You can imagine how they would change from beautiful places to very scary places with a little cold and moisture ....
posted by mpemulis at 5:08 PM on December 6, 2006


Err ... try searching on Big Windy Creek instead of just Windy Creek.
posted by mpemulis at 5:11 PM on December 6, 2006


Hindsight is a wonderful thing. He did what he thought was best for his family but unfortunately died.
posted by movilla at 5:17 PM on December 6, 2006


At some point they decided it was no longer safe to drive at all so they stopped for the night.

This brings to mind a few times when I've been driving late at night and road conditions were horrible but I was too scared to stop, thinking that if the snow kept up, we'd be stuck and then be in a real fix, so I'd just keep driving at an interminable crawl into the wee hours....

Just last week I was recollecting a particular Montana snowstorm which put a friend and I in that scenario, and thinking that maybe I'd been silly in my fear about getting snowed in and only found in the thaw. Now I'm not so sure.

I've gone underprepared into the wilderness before, and have been lost a time or two as well, and I remember the undercurrent of fear, being thirsty and exposed, realizing how simple it was to just not pay attention for a moment and then find myself lost, cursing myself for doing it and wishing now that it was so easy to see that I could somehow just travel back and not do that and hoping I could turn it around and find the trail. I've been lucky to do it, but it chills me more than a little to reach back and remember how uncertain it was in those moments, and to imagine that uncertainty and fear and regret at a few small decisions growing deeper and deeper until the end.

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posted by weston at 5:22 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


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posted by teem at 5:26 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by UseyurBrain at 5:31 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm kind of curious as to why they haven't released details about how they got lost. Did the government do something unbelievably stupid leading to someone getting lost like that? Did the Kim's make a really dumb mistake somewhere? Why the silence?
posted by Captaintripps at 5:38 PM on December 6, 2006


Why the silence?

Because the wife and kids are in the hospital, either under care or mourning the death of James Kim. Details will come out eventually, I'm sure.

Did the government do something unbelievably stupid leading to someone getting lost like that?

What?
posted by muddgirl at 5:43 PM on December 6, 2006


This is close to me geographically, nerd-community-wise, age-wise...too, too much. A shitty day in Southern Oregon.

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posted by everichon at 5:44 PM on December 6, 2006


Captaintripps: Did the government do something unbelievably stupid leading to someone getting lost like that?

Where the hell did that come from? Put your tin foil hat back under the bed where it belongs.

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posted by Mave_80 at 5:49 PM on December 6, 2006


I was all set to make the mental note of "for god's sake, don't move around once you get lost" but then there the story of how a RV full of a dozen people got stuck in the same area last year(?) and only got rescued when two of their party hiked out and found help.

After waiting more than a week for rescue, yeah, I would've left too. I mean, wouldn't you assume that they would've found you by then, and no one was actually looking (in the right spot)?

Hearing the sequence of events as relayed by Kati, I'm not so sure I would've done anything different, even after reading what everyone here has condemned as poor decisions.

Also, goddamnit:
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posted by danny the boy at 5:50 PM on December 6, 2006


captintripps: they did release Kati's account. I'm not sure where I read it, but either in the cnet.com articles or the sfgate.com articles. They've been constantly updated and edited to reflect developments though.
posted by danny the boy at 5:52 PM on December 6, 2006


James was my friend.

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posted by jdfalk at 5:54 PM on December 6, 2006


This article from 2 hours ago says that the rescuers now say it's more likely he discarded his clothes due to the hypothermia, not to leave evidence of a trail.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:57 PM on December 6, 2006


My friends and I raft the Rogue every year, and we take Bear Camp Road to get back to Galice from Foster Bar.

It's a scary scary road, with long unpaved sections, sometimes impassable due to snow as late as May. (Once we did it with our doctor doped to the eyeballs in the back with a compound fracture of the tibia, but that's another story.)

The road is conspicuously marked as unsuitable for trailers, motorhomes, etc. One year we were almost back to civilization, about five miles from Galice, only to find the road completely blocked by one of those rock star-sized motor homes whose brakes had failed on the long descent.

(Of course, we were driving a trailer over that road, as the outfitters and shuttlers all do. And if had been our brakes that crapped out, we would have been the ones with all the cranky rafters glaring at us, if not actually at the bottom of the canyon.)

All that said, I can understand how they ended up on that road. As lisa g pointed out, unless they had a high-res map, the road probably looked just like any other wiggly road on the map. And they may have missed the warning sign in the dark and rain.

Yes, they made some dumb mistakes. So have you and I (and I'm talking to you, Mr. Wilderness Expert).

But if I ever find myself that deep in the shit, regardless of how I got there, I hope I deal with it as heroically as they did.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:02 PM on December 6, 2006


It's a matter of timimg and circumstance. If you are going to attempt to self-rescue, it's always best to do so immediately, before your resources and stamina are depleted, as scrump has pointed out, upthread.

Risk-management consists of making the best decisions on average, and on average you're better off not stumbling around in the winter wilderness exposed to the elements, in danger of breaking an ankle, getting even more lost ( which is what happened) or falling into a tree-well.

There are exceptions to every rule though, and as it turns out, they made the decisoin to hike out only after they saw on TV the search had finally been called off.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:02 PM on December 6, 2006


jdfalk, and all the others: I'm so sorry for your loss.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:03 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by Smart Dalek at 6:11 PM on December 6, 2006


I wasn't being tin-foil hatted. I'm just imagining poorly-designed signage or some such.
posted by Captaintripps at 6:12 PM on December 6, 2006


Here's the Google Maps hybrid view of the road... with satellite coverage taken in summer.

Some commentators elsewhere have asked "Why doesn't Oregon improve that road"... that's the last thing they should do. Make it look scarier, if anything.
posted by anthill at 6:12 PM on December 6, 2006


Also, some reports state that the Kim family had to hire four private helicopters for the search? Why did they have to do that, and not the local authorities?
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 6:22 PM on December 6, 2006


I agree that James should have stayed put with his family, but here is an interesting contrast: In the Sago mine disaster, the miners followed procedures and stayed put. But I think it was determined that if they had attempted to get out, they would have found that they were only a short distance from fresh air and all would have likely survived.

The real lesson to be learned, here, is that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The explosion at the Sago mine was preventable, and with better planning, so was James Kim's death.

Look before you leap.
posted by Doohickie at 6:28 PM on December 6, 2006


Also, some reports state that the Kim family had to hire four private helicopters for the search? Why did they have to do that, and not the local authorities?

The local authorities in small towns simply don't have the resources. Here in New Mexico, there are literally a couple of hundred search and rescue missions each year, and it's mostly volunteers who do the grunt work. It takes a lot of people to cover the enormous wilderness areas out here.
posted by hyperizer at 6:28 PM on December 6, 2006


Link
posted by hyperizer at 6:29 PM on December 6, 2006


Does anyone have more details regarding this MSNBC article saying the searchers had actually made contact with Kim yesterday?:

"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."

posted by jaimev at 6:33 PM on December 6, 2006


Got it. Thanks hyperizer. I guess I'd been trained by too many CSI shows to think everyone has resources to everything. That makes a lot more sense. Thanks.
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 6:36 PM on December 6, 2006


Why might he have left the road? In the CO Rockies, water goes downhill to people (a lot of the time).

If the road is narrow and twisty and bad, would it have been clear where the road really was once it was covered with snow? Even here in a relatively urban area it can get hard to tell with only a few inches of snow. If it had only been rain when they went up, he wouldn't have had any tracks to follow back down.

Poor guy.
posted by dilettante at 6:40 PM on December 6, 2006


This is also true of most large metropolitan areas as well, such as the one I live in, hperizer. When someone gets lost, it is the volunteers who do most of the work, with the paid authorities offering mostly logistic and coodination support.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:40 PM on December 6, 2006


Also, some reports state that the Kim family had to hire four private helicopters for the search? Why did they have to do that, and not the local authorities?

The local authorities in small towns simply don't have the resources.


Why didn't the search start in earnest until a week after they were missing?
posted by mrgrimm at 6:41 PM on December 6, 2006


Friends it has been said before but I'll say it again, don't leave your car when you become stranded in the wilderness. I'm terribly sorry for what seems to have been a good man and his family. People die doing brave but ultimately counterproductive things, I respect that James Kim lost his life trying to do what he thought was the right thing for his family, most of us are never going to have to make that choice and it shouldn't diminish his life. However, don't leave your car, the odds are this is going to save you and everyone else. It is equally brave to remain in place knowing that you are not actively pursuing your rescue but that the odds are in your favor.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:43 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by tuxster at 6:47 PM on December 6, 2006


It's very hard for me to think of someone I know dying alone in the cold and the wet, without him knowing that his wife and children were going to be OK.

I really, really wish that there's a way for him to know now.

I know you tried, James. And I'm proud of you.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:52 PM on December 6, 2006


In snow, a talented driver in a Toyota Corolla can easily out-maneuver someone clueless driving a Ford Expedition.

Uh-huh. And have done, too. I hit some ungodly black ice on I-90 near-ish Albany last December, and did at least 4 full 360 spins -- while still moving forward -- before coming to a stop. In a Corolla. A few minutes later, after I stopped shaking and started driving again, I saw several SUVs crashed into various guardrails.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 6:53 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by Lex Tangible at 6:53 PM on December 6, 2006


Very sad, my heart goes out to the family.

All snark aside, may NONE of us ever find ourselves in that situation, who knows how one would react, which decision is the one that would kill us - or keep us alive.
posted by dbiedny at 6:54 PM on December 6, 2006


Why didn't the search start in earnest until a week after they were missing?

Well, they weren't officially reported as missing until Wednesday -- four days after they got stuck. And even then, it wasn't clear where they were; they could have been anywhere from Portland to San Francisco. It took another day for people to figure out that they'd made a hotel reservation for Saturday night on the Oregon coast that they'd never shown up for, and a few days after that for a waitress (who saw news coverage) to recognize them as a family that she'd served in Roseburg on Saturday night. So that narrowed the search area a bit. But the main problem was that there were literally dozens of routes they could have taken from Portland to the southern Oregon coast, and nobody was sure what they'd done. (Although the road they had indeed taken was surely the most hazardous of any of their possible routes, and was one of the main focuses from the start.)

The thing that truly helped pinpoint their location was a ping from their cell phone recorded on a cell tower, close to where they were found -- it had pinged on the night the family got stuck. It took nearly a WEEK for that ping to be discovered, and once it was discovered, the mom and kids were found within a day. That's what's so distressing -- couldn't that have been discovered earlier? Is it that technically difficult to retrieve? (I know little about cell-phone technology, so maybe it did take several days to comb through a specific phone's records.)

Also, the local authorities did indeed provide several helicopters; the Kim family sprung for more, and it paid off in discovering Kati and the kids.

RIP, again.
posted by lisa g at 7:03 PM on December 6, 2006


what troybob said above, but this cityboy wonders if collecting tree limbs to maintain a bonfire wouldn't have been a good survival strategy.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 7:06 PM on December 6, 2006


Very sad.

Just about everyone in forensics (esp. us pathology folks) knew that he was dead yesterday when they found his pants. It's a symptom of severe hypothermia called paradoxical undressing. Very classic example. We always find people who die of hypothermia in deep winter laying naked next a big pile of their clothing.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 7:20 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by oxonium at 7:26 PM on December 6, 2006


This is unutterably sad. As soon as I read that he'd left his vehicle I knew what the ending would be. I hoped I was wrong, but I knew I wasn't.

My heart goes out to his family and all who knew and loved him. Maybe he made some wrong choices, but he was extremely courageous nonetheless. He tried his best, and gave everything he had. Right or wrong, we cannot take that from him.

May none of us ever experience the terror this family must have felt during these past 10 days.

Be safe out there, folks. Carry a cell phone. Bring provisions appropriate for your travels. Dont take unknown shortcuts during a storm, especially in the wilderness. And never, ever, ever leave your camp if you get lost. They will find you.

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posted by perilous at 7:27 PM on December 6, 2006


Just about everyone in forensics (esp. us pathology folks) knew that he was dead yesterday when they found his pants.

The pants they found weren't the pants he had been wearing -- he took lots of extra articles of clothing to leave a trail, which helped searchers find him.

Be safe out there, folks. Carry a cell phone.

They had cell phones ... but were in an area with little coverage, typical for many rural, mountainous areas. (Unless you have a satellite phone.) Hopefully the major carriers will soon be willing to provide wider service, even to sparsely populated areas. (I'm not saying you thought they didn't have a cell phone, but people are often surprised when traveling in the U.S. when their cell can't pick up a signal.)
posted by lisa g at 7:50 PM on December 6, 2006


Good God, this is a depressing outcome. His poor family.


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posted by echolalia67 at 7:52 PM on December 6, 2006


lisa g writes "I think a lot of us living in mild-weathered West Coast cities like Portland, Seattle and SF can forget how radically different conditions can be less than an hour's drive away. "

They had a real wake up call down in Vancouver a few years ago when a sudden freak snow storm shut the highways down and people were trapped in their cars during the commute in some cases for over 24 hours. Blankets, several thousand calories and a shovel have been in my cars at all times in the winter ever since.

b1tr0t writes "The sad truth about AWD is that its only real benefit is that allows you to go faster in low-traction conditions."

Like knowledge, 4WD allows you to get stuck in more difficult places.

amberglow writes "national parks covered by cellphones now? can't they do something to blanket the whole country (and especially places like this) via satellite or something, like gps is?"

Cell service basically needs line of sight to a tower with the abilty to penetrate limited obstructions. It's really spotty to the point of nonexistance in many mountainous areas. Satellite voice service is really expensive, both capital wise and for usage. GPS fyi is pretty weak and needs a direct line to multiple satelittes. It can be blocked by foilage and terrain (IE: canyons).
posted by Mitheral at 7:57 PM on December 6, 2006


Oh hell. :-(

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posted by -t at 7:59 PM on December 6, 2006


Just goes to show you that all the gadgets in the world can't save you if you're an ignorant city boy lacking a healthy respect for nature who opts to do the very thing everyone tells you NOT to do when you're lost in bumfuck nowhere. It's a big mean world out there kids, either play it smart or stick to the burbs.
posted by keswick at 8:05 PM on December 6, 2006


Having driven through this part of Oregon in the dead of winter (Once on a motorcycle -- I shudder to think what you all would have said about me were I to have perished), I'll say that it's very easy to underestimate how rugged the terrain just a few short minutes' drive off of I-5 can be. With the exception of the top of the passes, the entire area can seem entirely navigable by any ol' car, and the distance from 5 to the coast seems deceptively short, as the crow flies.

In summer, it's a pleasant jaunt from the corridor to the coast. In winter, it can, obviously, be deadly.

(.)
posted by wolftrouble at 8:06 PM on December 6, 2006


.

Poor guy. Obviously in hindsight leaving the car was a mistake. Who knows what one would do in a similar situation?

He made a brave attempt. I'm all choked up. :-(
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:09 PM on December 6, 2006


They had cell phones ... but were in an area with little coverage, typical for many rural, mountainous areas. (Unless you have a satellite phone.) Hopefully the major carriers will soon be willing to provide wider service, even to sparsely populated areas. (I'm not saying you thought they didn't have a cell phone, but people are often surprised when traveling in the U.S. when their cell can't pick up a signal.)

Agreed, lisa g, and I do know all too well that cell phone coverage is spotty at best in certain terrains, but they were actually able to narrow down the search parameters based on what few signals they managed to receive from the Kims' cell phone(s).

It's absolutely better to have a cell phone handy than not. In fact, when youre on long road trips, carry at least one spare battery with you. As far as I'm concerned - not that this would apply to James Kim - but anyone who spends a lot of time in the wilderness would be foolish not to invest in a good satellite phone. Things can happen in a split second and with zero warning, and that one precaution can make all the difference between life and death.

As someone who loves to spend time in the wild and on long road trips, almost always alone, I'm a great believer in being well prepared for your travels. Though for various reasons I haven't done a lot of hiking in the past couple of years, when I am out there I do mostly winter and cold weather hiking. Carrying weather-appropriate gear and supplies, most especially if you are traveling with animals, young children, and other especially vulnerable parties, is absolutely non-negotiable. You must be prepared, period. The preparations I make and the supplies I carry with me wherever I go have come in very handy to me several times in the past and now I dont make a move without them no matter how seldom I use them.

That being said, yes, it's time that the carriers started focusing less on fleecing their customers and more on providing complete coverage in every possible area. The Kim family would have been rescued much sooner if coverage had been better. With all the myriad advances in various types of cell technology there is no reason whatsoever that coverage remains as poor as it is. This situation, and many others like it, are proof of that.

It's not the first time poor coverage has contributed or led directly to the death of stranded people.

You know, I never knew James Kim personally but I'm taking this news very hard. Strange how that happens. I was really, really rooting for this guy to make it. What a damned shame.
posted by perilous at 8:17 PM on December 6, 2006


"I read somewhere -- sorry I don't have a reference -- that when they started up the road they were on, it was only raining. At higher elevations it started to snow so they decided to turn around. At some point they decided it was no longer safe to drive at all so they stopped for the night. When they woke up in the morning they were snowed in and couldn't drive at all anymore.

At any rate, we're likely to get the full story from Kati Kim eventually. I'm sure all the decisions they made were rational given their circumstances."

I think it would relatively easy for most of us to make the same types of mistakes that led to his death. I've done stupider things and lived to tell about it, like failing to slow down in a sudden rain burst in a mountain pass and sliding between gaps in the guard rails into the dirt filled median, barely avoiding oncoming traffic in the opposite lane. The weather just doesn't care about us.
posted by mecran01 at 8:35 PM on December 6, 2006


The hard part is he must have known that the entire blogosphere was writing about his disappearance....and wondering what happened to him. As a blogger... there's a certain comfort knowing that there are thousands of people who will notice ....if you're suddenly missing. Surely they will come. We will be found. That feeling of being connected gets lost pretty fast while you wait for nine days for help to arrive.

Fuck. I really wish he made it out alive.

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posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:40 PM on December 6, 2006


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Sad news. I was hoping that somehow it would not have turned out this way.
posted by a3matrix at 8:41 PM on December 6, 2006


The pants they found weren't the pants he had been wearing -- he took lots of extra articles of clothing to leave a trail, which helped searchers find him.

One of the articles said he was wearing the clothes over his other clothes, although I can't seem to find it now. And the rescuers are leaving the option open that he did it because of hypothermia. See here.
posted by bob sarabia at 8:55 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by spinning jennie at 9:02 PM on December 6, 2006


"I'm so terrified by the whole thing I refuse to ever enter the state of Oregon"

Back in my band days that involved travelling to Oregon a lot, we had 2 car accidents, one of which put me in the hospital, 3 blown tires, and a car fire. Never had any issues when travelling around Washington.

Oregon is cursed!

"As a blogger... there's a certain comfort knowing that there are thousands of people who will notice ....if you're suddenly missing"

Dunno about that. I have a blog, but if I went missing, I highly doubt anybody on Metafilter would notice, unless my girlfriend posted an FPP about it.
posted by drstein at 9:17 PM on December 6, 2006


I'm kind of curious as to why they haven't released details about how they got lost. Did the government do something unbelievably stupid leading to someone getting lost like that? Did the Kim's make a really dumb mistake somewhere?

They weren't actually "lost", captaintripps. They knew where they were and what road they had taken. They just didn't know, apparently, how treacherous that choice was.

The minor mistake that led to all this was missing the OR-42 exit off of I-5, which was the safe road that would have taken them to Gold Beach. They could have backtracked, or they could have gone forward and cut down to Crescent City before backtracking, or they could have skipped Gold Beach entirely. The second mistake was deciding that they had to make that reservation and that the Oregon State Map showing Bear Camp Road meant that it was a safe choice.

After that, the mistakes compounded. The road had rocks on it and they actually physically cleared them to proceed at one point. They got so far up in the mountains the rain changed to snow. Then trying to get back out of the snow they made probably the worst mistake, which was turning onto a logging road that is normally gated off, but which had been vandalized and left open. That's the road that took them to the lookout where they stayed the night, and where they were stuck in the snow in the morning.

There's a fair bit of blame for whoever broke that gate, probably just to horse around with their Jeep.

The pants they found weren't the pants he had been wearing -- he took lots of extra articles of clothing to leave a trail, which helped searchers find him.

lisa g, it's clearer now that he was in late stage hypothermia. He was probably face down in the snow naked.

Does anyone have more details regarding this MSNBC article saying the searchers had actually made contact with Kim yesterday?:

I'm almost certain that by direct contact the rescuers did not mean communication, but that they had positively identified a human body, condition unknown. Most of the reports from yesterday were saying that there was something unspecified they were going down to check out, and I had a really bad feeling about that cageyness.

It took nearly a WEEK for that ping to be discovered, and once it was discovered, the mom and kids were found within a day. That's what's so distressing -- couldn't that have been discovered earlier?

lisa g, I don't think the cell company got involved until the search was already well underway. After they volunteered to do the check, the OSP had to get a warrant for the information to be released, but once that happened it was probably a pretty quick process.

In fact, there is some great advice in this CNet article:

Anderson said that if people ever find themselves in a similar situation--lost and having difficulty getting cell phone reception--they should search for the highest ground or area that may be in the line of sight to a tower. They should hold the phone away from their bodies or high so it has no obstructions to a possible tower. It may take up to two or three minutes for it to synchronize or connect with the cell tower and mobile switching center. Even if they can connect for a second or two, it could be long enough to register a voice mail or text message, which could ultimately help wireless engineers track their location.

This may or may not work but it's one of those things that can help maximize your own chances.

If any silver linings can come out of this, I hope that the friends who literally almost moved heaven and earth -- or at least a satellite -- can put that energy into improving signage, or cell coverage, or just tourist information. Something akin to the last gas for 80 miles signs that used to be common in the desert. Stuff like this outback tourist brochure.
posted by dhartung at 9:18 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


Just goes to show you that all the gadgets in the world can't save you if you're an ignorant city boy lacking a healthy respect for nature who opts to do the very thing everyone tells you NOT to do when you're lost in bumfuck nowhere. It's a big mean world out there kids, either play it smart or stick to the burbs.

Dear Keswick. I hope when you die, of whatever it is gets you in the end, no one cares. And some douchebag who didn't know you uses you as a tool to inflate their sense of superiority under the guise of an object lesson for 'ignorant city folk'.
posted by danny the boy at 9:28 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


"...it's clearer now that he was in late stage hypothermia."

I haven't read anything that would lead me to that conclusion yet.

"He was probably face down in the snow naked."
It's too great an assumption to say that at this point. More details will prolly be forthcoming, though.
posted by wsg at 9:51 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by Colloquial Collision at 9:52 PM on December 6, 2006


Good on you, James, for not being willing to let your family die without doing all that you could to save them. I hope Kati finds the strength to carry on. I hope your daughters grow up proud of you and filled with your spirit. Rest in peace.

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posted by brantstrand at 9:58 PM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]


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posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:59 PM on December 6, 2006


>my empathy is tempered by something I can only describe as fury at two parents who would take their children into these conditions and these environs with such minimal preparation. [...] I've done my share of dumb things over the years, but I'm a father now, and I would never put my family into this kind of situation unless I were forced to by someone holding a gun at my head

This is exactly what I was thinking. Thanks for saying it, scrump. It's terribly sad, but for god's sake why did they go unprepared, to a cold, dangerous, deserted place with a seven-month-old baby? I literally cannot imagine what motivates someone to do that.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 10:02 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by simonemarie at 10:12 PM on December 6, 2006


I literally cannot imagine what motivates someone to do that.

It's not like they were trekking through Siberia, here. There's few major roads in the US -- that are designated as such on a map -- where NOBODY drives past in the span of a week.

It was a series of rather odd happenstances that got them in that jam.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:17 PM on December 6, 2006


To all the survival experts crowing about how James' chances were much lower leaving the car and striking out for help: That is true, but what you pointedly ignore or fail to realize is that Kati and the girls' chances were increased by his action. If the car was found first, they live. If James finds help first, they live. That additional chance--marginal though it may have been--was apparently enough for him.

Anyone else looking to tut-tut, wag your finger, and/or generally demonstrate that your judgement is superior to the Kims', please go write a post about survival in the cold or what kinds of travel are acceptable to be done with children and/or infants. Then start your memoir detailing your faultless life and unassailable judgement.

Please leave the rest of us here to lament the tragic loss of one of our fellow all-too-humans.
posted by brantstrand at 10:38 PM on December 6, 2006


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posted by Ricky_gr10 at 10:51 PM on December 6, 2006


Heywood Mogroot writes "this cityboy wonders if collecting tree limbs to maintain a bonfire wouldn't have been a good survival strategy."

Ya, somewhere around the time I was lighting my last tire I might have been trying to get a forest fire started.
posted by Mitheral at 10:57 PM on December 6, 2006


Um, no. You could start a bonfire to attract attention but no one should start a forest fire on purpose. What if you spark off a fire that kills 10 firefighters? You could be prosecuted for that and even if you weren't you'd have to live with it for the rest of your life.

I realize that it's a desperate decision to make but it's not one that anyone should attempt. There are smarter ways to get saved without burning down acres of forest and foolishly risking the lives of other people.
posted by bob sarabia at 11:46 PM on December 6, 2006


So they burned tires, and no one noticed black smoke? I find that odd, in vaulable forrest land.

I would think that vegetation would be obvious to put on a fire, however you started it. Again, fire and smoke are likely to bring rescue. Much easier and more likely than hiking out in snow. And you get warm, too.

Thinking carefully, I can understand the situation except that someone said they'd lived in Eugene. To me (from Michigan), if I were in Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, etc (even northern Michigan), I would think 'wilderness'. But in Oregon, I think 'west coast'. Not equal, in my admitted ignorance. (I've been up the I-5, but not off either side).

This past July I had a lovely experience with maps/GPS. I chose a route that looked just fine, under fair weather (and the weather, thank God, stayed nice). The road turned out to be steep and barely passable, me driving a Camry (LOL!). Just to avoid going out of a place by the same road I went in. We could easily have been stranded or over the cliff. Don't remember if cell coverage stayed with us. But that's in South Africa. At least we got some lovely photos.
posted by Goofyy at 11:57 PM on December 6, 2006


The cell signal that allowed them to be found was James's phone receiving a text message; this didn't happen until they had already been missing for a while (I'm not clear on the chronology). But you'd expect there were plenty of text messages sent to him over the whole time they were missing. So it could be that his leaving the car Saturday actually did contribute to the rest of the family being found, because he (unwittingly) moved the cell phone to a location where it could get a signal.

Having gotten into a horrible situation by a series of understandable mistakes, it sounds to me like James and Kati did incredibly, incredibly well. Keeping the family warm for 9 days is impressive; making an arrangement that he would come back at a certain time, leaving a trail of markers (if that was part of the plan). Yes, bad to leave the car, but entirely understandable and courageous, with two little kids, no food, diminishing fuel, and no sign of rescue after nine fucking days. General commentary on survival skills is one thing, but slagging the Kims here is inhuman.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:19 AM on December 7, 2006


The cell signal that allowed them to be found was James's phone receiving a text message; this didn't happen until they had already been missing for a while

No, it happened 1:30 a.m. November 26, probably around the time they were struggling up or down Bear Camp Road.

I haven't read anything that would lead me to that conclusion yet.... It's too great an assumption to say that at this point

wsg, this isn't a crime. There's no need for some presumption of innocence. We're talking about the known etiology of hypothermia. It may please one to think that he was being rational and noble in his last moments on Earth, but it isn't compatible with existing medical knowledge.

brantstrand: I'm sorry that my reaction to this tragedy is more analytical than yours, but I'm entitled to mine too. I haven't seen anybody trying to say they're superior.

Again, fire and smoke are likely to bring rescue.

Exactly. As I've said before, they were amazingly resourceful, but they could have done more. They were in an open clearing (a lookout), plenty of room for a fire, and in snow season a raging wildfire is much less of a risk. Even the fact that the wood is wet will help because it will smoke better. It would have been hard to start a fire and keep it going, of course.
posted by dhartung at 12:42 AM on December 7, 2006


my empathy is tempered by something I can only describe as fury at two parents who would take their children into these conditions and these environs with such minimal preparation.

I expect the fury you feel at James and Kati Kim is dwarfed by the fury they must have felt at themselves during the nine days they remained stuck in their car with their daughters and their decisions, the fury James Kim must have felt at himself as he wandered in the snow not knowing whether his family was still alive, and the fury Kati Kim must be feeling at herself at this moment.

What a terrible tragedy. Not knowing the details, I prefer to give James Kim, in death, the benefit of the doubt - that he knew leaving the car would likely be his own end, but that there was a sliver of a chance it might save his loved ones. I hope I never have to make that kind of choice.

.
posted by granted at 1:20 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


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posted by mdeatherage at 1:33 AM on December 7, 2006


the fury Kati Kim must be feeling at herself at this moment

I dunno. . . why all the anger here? These people weren't trailblazing in the Sierras here, they just made a wrong turn and got hit by a snowstorm.

While the terrain they were in was rather rugged, perhaps people would calm the fuck down if they realized that the Kims were basically looking for a scenic road-route from the I-5 corridor to the PCH.

For Californians, it's unthinkable that a major (on the map) paved road without warning signs so near the coast would turn into a 9-day Donner Party death-trap situation after one of the first storms of the season.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:42 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Let's also not forget the good things they did. Kati breastfeeding their daughters was a great thing. Many women these days do not breastfeed 7 month olds anymore, let alone four year olds. It is incredibly empowering to be able to feed your children with your body. I hope all the smart people in this thread who would never leave the car etc. also decide to breastfeed their children until at least age two.

I do agree that they made some terrible choices that I probably would not have made. I am quite sure I would have brought at least water, food and winter clothing, for example. However, everybody makes mistakes, especially parents. I might not have made this mistake but I did do stupid things during the life of my daughter. Fortunately, they all ended well, like most mistakes do. Parenting boards are full with stories of people who did something incredibly stupid, but which fortunately ended well.

My thoughts are with Kati and the children.
posted by davar at 1:59 AM on December 7, 2006


He demonstrated such virtue and bravery out there.

.
posted by moonbird at 2:55 AM on December 7, 2006


RIP to James, and god bless Kati and the girls, who have the hardest part of this. They are the ones you need to feel for here.

They made a series of small, minor mistakes, the logic of each being understandable, and those mistakes compounded horribly. They're not idiots, just unfortunate. I'm sure if they had experience in search-and-rescue teams as some here claim to, they would have made those small decisions differently, knowing the possible outcome. I'm sure many of us will make our small decisions differently, with the memory of this in mind.

I'm hesitant to add this, but I take some comfort in the fact that James did die of hypothermia. As a foolish kid I once got hypothermic enough myself enough to know that it's far from the worst way to die. Your thinking gets very cloudy and internalized, so I doubt he was agonizing over his family at that point. He began to feel warm and sleepy towards the end. He slept.

Far better than encountering a bear or cougar, or drowning in the river.
posted by Pliskie at 3:23 AM on December 7, 2006


Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon

Interesting tidbit
The original impetus for the program in the U.S. was the loss of Congressmen Hale Boggs (D-LA) and Nick Begich (D-AK) in the Alaskan wilderness on October 16, 1972. A massive search effort failed to locate them. The result was a U.S. law mandating that all aircraft carry an emergency locator transmitter.
Hey mandatory pilot activated beacons on car, what a concept ah ?


And not a cellphone or GPS...as Mitheral points out

GPS fyi is pretty weak and needs a direct line to multiple satelittes.

Very truely so. One may think skyscrapers are the only kind of building that can block a GPS signal (not mentioning scattering etc) but just try going in any location in which you can't see much of the horizon even if you turn all around. That is why I have a paper map along my GPS unit in the car.

I should also note that in more than one occasion, even if not that often, my GPS software routed me into infernal little unpaved streets to which the city commuter is hardly accustomed to. TomTom and Microsoft Autoroute 200x did that to me AND you don't want that treatement at night. When I learned by -experiencing it on my skin- I decided to always preview my route and avoid little streets as much as possible and certainly NOT during night.

In a similar experence, but during daylight and in much easier conditions, I spent a good 15 minutes in a forest trying to find a place wide enough to turn my car back as I had rock on the left and nothing on the right. The experience was "scary" enough in the morning, I can't imagine it at night.

Anyone else looking to tut-tut, wag your finger, and/or generally demonstrate that your judgement is superior to the Kims', please go write a post about survival in the cold

Right on that's useful talking. Dhartung's link is a starter.

It should also be noted that having the right tools in the car is a prerequisite, but knowing how to use them is what is also needed. Getting a McGyver like pocket knife tool in a car is a good enough start, but it is a lot less useful or utterly useless in a hypothermia situation in which a couple of blankets would help save the day, some waterproof matches could help with fire ...but than again if you don't know how to setup a fire without giving fire to the whole forest or yourself, the matches and the knifes and the nuclear bombs become useless.

I still think a beacon could have saved them IF they also had some food and water supplies in car and some thermal blankets.

And no I don't have such a beacon, I doubt it even would be listened to in Europe ?
posted by elpapacito at 4:30 AM on December 7, 2006


I think:

The series of mistakes which lead to them stranded, like many series that accrete into larger mistakes, must have seemed relatively minor. I think that even with the best foresight and "rules" many people could find themselves unwittingly in similar situations.

I agree with those who think Mr. Kim left the car in order to sacrifice himself to marginally improve his family's chances, which he no doubt did. Even though they were found through another means, his trek improved their chances. He deserves respect for that choice.
posted by OmieWise at 6:16 AM on December 7, 2006




"He was very motivated...he traveled a long way," Josephine County Undersheriff Brian Anderson said.

Something very poignant about that sentance. Sad.


“It's a big mean world out there kids, either play it smart or stick to the burbs.”

Or you could post something on the internet that pisses off some psychopath and he hunts you down and kills you. It’s a big mean world out there, either STFU or stick to your own thoughts.
More rationally - this situation very much reminds me of several stories; obviously Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” which agrees with some sentiments here - if you’re ignorant, nature kills you. And I of course agree with that much of it.
But related is a short bit from “Dune” in which Paul Atreides explains his thoughts on a drowned fisherman:

“Paul glanced at Halleck, took in the defensive positions of his guards, looked at the banker until the man lowered the water flagon. He said: "Once, on Caladan, I saw the body of a drowned fisherman recovered. He--"
"Drowned?" It was the stillsuit manufacturer's daughter.
Paul hesitated, then: "Yes. Immersed in water until dead. Drowned."
"What an interesting way to die," she murmured.
Paul's smile became brittle. He returned his attention to the banker. "The interesting thing about this man was the wounds on his shoulders--made by another fisherman's claw-boots. This fisherman was one of several in a boat--a craft for traveling on water--that foundered . . . sank beneath the water. Another fisherman helping recover the body said he'd seen marks like this man's wounds several times. They meant another drowning fisherman had tried to stand on this poor fellow's shoulders in the attempt to reach up to the surface--to reach air."
"Why is this interesting?" the banker asked.
"Because of an observation made by my father at the time. He said the drowning man who climbs on your shoulders to save himself is understandable--except when you see it happen in the drawing room." Paul hesitated just long enough for the banker to see the point coming, then: "And, I should add, except when you see it at the dinner table."

And I’ll add, except when you see it on Metafilter. The man’s dead. He made a mistake and it killed him and could have killed his family. But he tried to rectify that, and paid for it. No need to piss on his grave.
posted by Smedleyman at 6:32 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


I think people are mad at James Kim for letting the situation end like this. So many of us see bits of ourselves in this, and we desperately wanted him to be alive. It's an expression of grief.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:44 AM on December 7, 2006 [2 favorites]


It's a truism I think that your car/truck gets you stuck, your winch gets you out.

Also, I really don't think it's fair to say

AWD, on the other hand, lets you put more power down to the road. Given two cars with modern ABS and traction control, but AWD on one and either FWD or RWD on the other, it will always be easier to get the AWD equipped car into situations it can't extract itself from. The ABS/TCS only car isn't immune to trouble, but AWD will allow you to achieve higher velocities in poor conditions, pushing you deeper into the danger zone.

At least not without also mentioning the dangers of Traction Control and ABS, especially in inclimate conditions like this. For an untrained driver on snowy roads, you're probably right. AWD in that situation will let you get further up the snowy road that you shouldn't be on in the first place. I contend that this is still driver error and that the benefits of AWD (far) outweigh the risks, but that's my opinion.

Traction Control and ABS however aren't exactly perfect either. ABS is (can be anyway) better than any human on non-deformable terrain (pavement, ice) where it maintains better grip. On gravel, dirt or snow, however, locking the tires pushes up mounds of terrain in front of them, hence faster stopping. Am I arguing that ABS is unsafe? Of course not, but to ignore the dangers is silly. Even ignoring the natural risk homeostasis that causes people who know they have ABS to drive faster and more riskily, its important to acknowledge that every advance has a downside.

Traction control is very nearly the same. A friend of mine came very close to dying because of traction control. His BMW decided that the wheels were slipping too much and pulled power from the engine, causing understeer, which nearly put him over a cliff. Again, driver error because he should have known how and when the tc would kick in, but it illustrates my point.

If you don't know what to do (because you've done it before), you'll get yourself into trouble somehow, and ABS, TC, AWD and all the snow tires in the world won't get you out of it.
posted by Skorgu at 7:40 AM on December 7, 2006


thirteenkiller writes "I think people are mad at James Kim for letting the situation end like this."

I'm not mad at Kim or his family, that'd be foolish. However I am cheesed off at every person who has, when they've seen my winter kit, implied that the preperations I take are over the top. And reading the Kim's story has pointed out a glaring omission in my kit: the ability to reliably and effortlessly start fires. That's something I'll be fixing this weekend.
posted by Mitheral at 7:59 AM on December 7, 2006


.
posted by kalessin at 8:06 AM on December 7, 2006


As I read this thread, it actually becomes quite clear what the Kim's biggest mistake was:

not giving a detailed, hour-by-hour route plan to a family member.

It's something that all of the "wilderness survival" experts tell you to do. It's also really easy to forget, especially if you are, you know, not expecting a wilderness survival situation at all. And at it really needs to be very detailed to be useful, which makes it even more of a pain (hour-by-hour is not really hyperbole).

There is something to keep in mind here. I'm a rock climber. When a rock climber dies, climbers always try to figure out what happened. They don't do it to dishonor their dead friend, even though most of the time it's a series of human mistakes that lead to their friend's death. Rather, they do it to learn from those mistakes.

Understanding what Kim did wrong in that light is fine and noble -- maybe one person won't die because of this small bit of experience by proxy.

What one should not do, however, when analyzing these mistakes, is to judge Kim. Mistakes happen. We're all human, and it's quite possible that one of your mistakes will kill you one day. All of the mistakes I read about that kill rock climbers are simple, easy mistakes that anyone could make. It's the same here.

I have a high clearance 4WD vehicle. I know the mountains. I've driven over mountain passes in winter. I've camped at 12,000 ft. in January. I've spend the night outside with no tent, and built a fire in the snow and frost of a frigid morning. I've scaled cliffs and climbed 14ers in winter, where death is literally always stalking you. I've been lost in the mountains, I've driven cars on nasty, snowy mountain roads.

In short, I'm not a city boy or a stranger to survival situations (even though I actually live in a city).

And it would have been amazingly easy for me to make the exact same mistakes Kim did, and end up dead. That's just the way life is. The high mountains are some of the only places left in America where real wilderness still exists a stone's throw away from civilization. The harsh reality of wilderness is that you can be snuffed out by it, just like that. All the smarts and planning in the world can't make that reality go away.

He died trying to save his family. He's a hero.
posted by teece at 8:20 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


“Am I arguing that ABS is unsafe? Of course not, but to ignore the dangers is silly.”

Heh heh. I was looking at a 4wd vehicle with ABS and I asked the dealer “So, how do you disable the ABS?” he looked at me like I was nuts.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:38 AM on December 7, 2006


“So, how do you disable the ABS?”

You can do it on mine by pulling a fuse. The brake light will stay on, but the brakes otherwise work fine (as I understand my SUV; I've never bothered to do it. ABS is fine for the driving I do; if stopping is going to be an issue, put it in 4-LO and 1st, and crawl :-).
posted by teece at 8:53 AM on December 7, 2006


I've disabled the ABS on my Subaru just like teece- I pulled the fuse.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:10 AM on December 7, 2006


James Kim did everything right and still lost his life. I find it comforting to know that the wife and kids that were found alive were found after backtracking James Kim's footprints in the snow back to the car. Had he not left for help those footprints would not have been found. So he saved the life of his family but lost his in the processs. Definitely a man to admire. I am amazed at the things he did to save his family. God be with his family.
posted by JayRwv at 9:32 AM on December 7, 2006 [1 favorite]


Some of the more hardcore wire a toggle in to more easily adjust it. I can't imagine your insurance company will look kindly upon such a thing if you get into an accident, but I do think that disabling ABS should be an option, even if it is buried sixteen menus deep in some OSD.

Of course, I think you should be able to disable your headlights too, but clearly Subaru (and Volvo) disagree there.
posted by Skorgu at 9:33 AM on December 7, 2006


no, dhartung, it's not a crime and there is no presumed innocence, but it is sheer conjecture for you to say that "he was probably found face down in the snow naked."
posted by wsg at 9:35 AM on December 7, 2006


As a few people have pointed out, he died trying to save his family. As a few less have pointed out, by doing so he increased the chances of the most people surviving the event. By leaving he left more food (breastfeeding from mom) for the remaining people, *and* increased the chances of one of them being found.

Lots of things would have made the outcome better. Hindsight on the internet is much better than 20/20, it seems. Stop wording responses as "they should have done X" instead. They didn't. Please start wording them as "if you're ever in situation X, you should do Y". It's only slightly different, but it at least stops directly harping on a family that is currently racked with tragedy.

RIP James. I didn't even know you existed until this whole thing started, but I still felt horrible when I heard you didn't make it (well, I knew when they found your pants, but still).
posted by Snowflake at 9:37 AM on December 7, 2006


By leaving he left more food (breastfeeding from mom) for the remaining people

Wait, mom was feeding him too? Or was there food left when he left the car?
posted by agregoli at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2006


You could start a bonfire to attract attention but no one should start a forest fire on purpose. What if you spark off a fire that kills 10 firefighters? You could be prosecuted for that and even if you weren't you'd have to live with it for the rest of your life.

Exactly.
posted by phearlez at 9:50 AM on December 7, 2006


You could start a bonfire to attract attention but no one should start a forest fire on purpose. What if you spark off a fire that kills 10 firefighters?

Even more to the point: what if the forest fire kills you? Which it probably would. A forest fire would just make an already bad situation much worse.
posted by teece at 10:05 AM on December 7, 2006


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
--R.Frost
posted by found missing at 10:21 AM on December 7, 2006


This is not meant to be a comment about Mr Kim in any way, but a comment about deceptive advertising.

These cars are in no way capable of handling the conditions implied here. They're cars good for snowy city streets, not mountaineering.
posted by scheptech at 10:22 AM on December 7, 2006


There are some good maps of what exactly happened and what the area looks like.
posted by Skorgu at 10:23 AM on December 7, 2006


Some of the more hardcore wire a toggle in to more easily adjust it. I can't imagine your insurance company will look kindly upon such a thing if you get into an accident, but I do think that disabling ABS should be an option, even if it is buried sixteen menus deep in some OSD.

I phrased that badly: I have taken out the ABS fuse ( narrow gravel roads) but I keep it in normally.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:29 AM on December 7, 2006


growabrain writes "Google Earth Images showing James Kim's Path"

Did the Kim's not know the Lodge was below them?
posted by Mitheral at 10:47 AM on December 7, 2006


growabrain writes "Google Earth Images showing James Kim's Path"

Yeah, looking at that just makes my heart break even more. Had he only gone in the other (admitadly unknown) direction, rather than backtracking his path, he might have lived, too.

Surely the map told him they were closer to the lodge than to the main rd?
posted by anastasiav at 11:02 AM on December 7, 2006


Did the Kim's not know the Lodge was below them?

Sorta looks like they didn't, huh.
posted by thirteenkiller at 11:04 AM on December 7, 2006


Yeah, if the lodge was really only 1.75 miles away, and he made it 10 the other direction, that's an enormous heartbreaker.
posted by jamesonandwater at 11:05 AM on December 7, 2006



Did the Kim's not know the Lodge was below them?
posted by Mitheral at 1:47 PM EST on December 7


I thought this was a Simpson's joke, and then I clicked on growabrain's link and my heart sank.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:26 AM on December 7, 2006


.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 11:43 AM on December 7, 2006


I'm watching the Oregon Police press conference --

The autopsy indicates that Kim died of exposure and hypothermia. There were no other injuries. And he was found fully clothed (jacket, sweater, shirt, pants, socks and tennis shoes). He also had a backpack with various items including identification.
posted by ericb at 1:04 PM on December 7, 2006


They thought there was a town just down the river - that's where he was headed. And the police spokesman keeps saing the Kims did nothing wrong.
posted by thirteenkiller at 1:08 PM on December 7, 2006


Yes -- according to an interview the police had with Katie, James looked at a map and thought that Galice, OR was about 4 miles away from their car. In actuality it was about 15 miles away. The Oregon police stated that he traveled about 8 miles in total -- and thought that by following Big Windy Creek that it would lead him to the town. Check out a map of his travel and video clip from the press conference here.
posted by ericb at 1:17 PM on December 7, 2006


So sad. :(
posted by every_one_needs_a_hug_sometimes at 1:24 PM on December 7, 2006


.
posted by msali at 2:01 PM on December 7, 2006


From an especially tasteless email I received from the always-entertaining fightfast.com "WE WILL TEACH YOU HOW TO FIIIIIGHT!" DVD hucksters:

Hey

I'm sure you've recently heard about James Kim
-- the family man who died from exposure after getting
lost in the rugged hills of Oregon.

This really pisses me off.

Because it was completely unneccesary. In fact
with a couple of hours of some simple training --
Kim could have easily survived off of the land and
like a comfortable fat-cat.

GO HERE

This whole story has FORCED me to re-introduce
"Bruce Beck's Survival" video package that my a
business partner (Leo Costa) shelved some months
back. I did some arm twisting (Leo's got a BIG arm)
because I felt it would be irresponsible for me not
to let guys like you in on this.

Your survival teacher is Bruce Beck and he's
notorious among S&E enthusiasts... because he grew
up in the Louisiana swamps learning how to live off
the land — from scratch — with on-the-fly
advice from his dad (himself a survival trainer for
the U.S. Marines). In fact he's so good you could drop
him buck-naked in the middle of no-where... and he'd
emerge weeks later tanned, rested and well-fed!

His survival videoset is 3 DVDs that are jam packed
with everything you'll need to survive comfortably --
no matter how desperate your situation appears.

Beck is also an expert at tracking (animals and men).
A few hundred years ago this was a skill that EVERY man
understood -- but today it's a lost art... all but unknown
to "metro-men".

So I want you to have Beck's astonishing "tracking"
DVD package for NOTHING -- yours to KEEP just for checking
this out.

GO HERE

This is all part of an extremely limited "test" for
hotlist guys like you only. The above links will go dead
in just 24 hours.

Bob Pierce
Fight-Fast
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:24 PM on December 7, 2006


Clearly the best solution was for James Kim to HAVE NEVER BEEN BORN! If he'd never been born, he would have never grown up to drive a car. Having never driven a car, he would have never left the city. Having never left the city he'd never have taken a mistaken stab at navigation and he would have never been caught out in a snowstorm without military-level support.

Sheeze. For one horrible moment I hoped those folks crowing about how l33t their survival gear is and at every moment to hand instead get hit by lightening or else forget something fundamental though critical. I mean, when was the last time you took a look to see if those sanitizing tablets hadn't gone to mush? Or, what, you don't have them?

In reading this, I'm reminded of my own foolish exploits in fairly similar conditions. I too have been overland through the snow and lost the trail when I really should have never left the car -- worse we did so "recreationally" until such time as, two Eagle Scouts we and quite familiar with the area, found ourselves still struggling back uphill in the faintest of twilight. A couple ticks the other way and that would have been us, or me alongside the logging road I took for a shortcut to get around a forest fire, caught and BBQd when the fire took an ugly turn (and boy, was I fucking lost -- THANKS AAA FOR THE MAP!)

Oh, seemed like a good idea at the time. Perfectly reasonable until I looked back on it and went "man, that was risky".

Those times I look back upon now as Great Adventures and its kind of sad to read the words of the "I never"s. Life is risky, man, doesn't matter what kind of foolish stuff you don't do. I would think that a life spent actively avoiding risk would be one relatively dull.

Sorry you didn't make it James. Had you come through, it would truly would have been a Great Adventure.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 2:43 PM on December 7, 2006


I've disabled the ABS on my Subaru just like teece- I pulled the fuse.

I am not so sure this is a wise idea , as it would work only on the assumption that opening the circuit prevent ONLY the ABS from working, while maybe by doing so one is also disabling sensors on wheels thay may be used for something else..for instance odometer or wheel RPM that may be used by TC.
posted by elpapacito at 3:46 PM on December 7, 2006


Life is risky, man, doesn't matter what kind of foolish stuff you don't do. I would think that a life spent actively avoiding risk would be one relatively dull.
There is a profound difference between taking a calculated risk and engaging in foolhardiness.
posted by scrump at 4:11 PM on December 7, 2006


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.”


source

But who really knows.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:46 PM on December 7, 2006


.
posted by badlydubbedboy at 5:07 PM on December 7, 2006


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

So very sad.
posted by ericb at 5:29 PM on December 7, 2006


elpapacito
I am not so sure this is a wise idea , as it would work only on the assumption that opening the circuit prevent ONLY the ABS from working.

I wouldn't recommend it either, but I've taken my brakes apart and checked out the wiring schematics etc, and know exactly what removing that fuse does (it turns of the ABS computer). The brake hydraulics still work, the speed sensor on the wheel is on a separate circuit. The brakes are the most redundant portion of the car, and the ABS circuits are a nice thing to have, but completely non-essential (by design -- the brakes work fine without the ABS up because it's safer that way, if the ABS fails).

But I doubt it is worth the hassle to turn of your ABS. The engineers that built it know better than I do about when to use it, and they didn't give me an on/off switch. If your in a situation where the lock-up is better than ABS, you probably just want to slow down.

But in any event, don't fuck around with the brakes on your car if you don't know very well what you are doing.

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

This is just a colossal bummer. I feel so bad for his family.
posted by teece at 8:25 PM on December 7, 2006


Calif. dad died near lodge stacked with food.
posted by ericb at 10:31 AM on December 8, 2006


"In fact with a couple of hours of some simple training -- Kim could have easily survived off of the land and like a comfortable fat-cat."

Heh heh. Yeah, what idiots those sales dudes are. The Inuit know a thing or two about survival...Nannook of the north died of starvation.
And having a family changes absolutely everything. I could probably have come out of the woods fat dumb and happy before I got married. Mostly because I didn't have to worry about anyone but myself. And my own death is no big deal. I played rugby full tilt. I'd spar full out with major league bad asses. Now that I've got a family, I'm radically different. I worry about getting hurt and not being able to work. I avoid walking on ice. I pretend it's just that I'm getting old and let the young kids rag on me, but the guys with families know. It's an entirely different mindset. And whatever skills you might have are bent to serve that objective. It takes over everything. Doesn't matter what you know, it's what you need to do for them. And maybe you panic or maybe you reason differently. I don't know what Kim did, but I can see that. And if it took people thinking I screwed the pooch and having to freeze to death to save my family, I'd do it without hesitation. I'm sure Kim thought the same way. And they're alive. Doesn't matter how, because it ain't about taking credit.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:35 PM on December 8, 2006


I should add - or what survival class you took. Shame some asshole is already trying to profit off his death and fear. Hell, that right there should let everyone know what that guy is selling is worth.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:37 PM on December 8, 2006


Another twist: Lock Was Cut on Gate Barring Oregon Road:
"A San Francisco man who got stranded with his family in the snowy wilderness had taken a wrong turn in the car down a logging road that is normally blocked by a gate, but vandals had cut the lock, authorities said Friday....The gate had been locked for the winter Nov. 1, after the end of deer hunting season, so that 'people don't mistakenly go down that road,' said Patty Burel, spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Land Management."
posted by ericb at 8:42 PM on December 8, 2006


Another update: Here is an updated map of the Kims' location and James' journey. They weren't on the turnoff to the lodge, they were much further out, and the word is now that he walked 16 miles.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:56 AM on December 11, 2006


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