Mother and children found, James Kim still missing
December 4, 2006 5:13 PM   Subscribe

James Kim still missing but wife and kids OK. Searchers found Kati Kim and two children but James, who left his family in the car, is still missing after going out for help two days ago.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink (88 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
This has turned out better than most folks expected. I hope James Kim turns up alive as well.
posted by fenriq at 5:16 PM on December 4, 2006

Same here fenriq.
I'm hoping that the Kim family is all together for the holidays. . . but I am concerned that it might not end as I wish.

Just be ok James, we're rooting for you.
posted by isopraxis at 5:21 PM on December 4, 2006

I didn't realize this was news outside of Oregon. Here's hoping James is still kicking.
posted by cortex at 5:22 PM on December 4, 2006

I am so happy to hear that. My heart was just aching thinking of that family with those two babies being found in less-than-happy conditions. Now we can all just keep our fingers crossed for James.
posted by thekilgore at 5:22 PM on December 4, 2006

This is good news. I hope James is found soon; many have been very concerned about him.
posted by hojoki at 5:24 PM on December 4, 2006

The Kims were stuck in the snow off a main road; for the last 8 days the family kept warm at night by running their car. Eventually the Kims burned tires at night when the gas ran out. James left his family at 7:45AM with the intention to return by 1:00PM that day, but obviously has not yet returned. Those concerned are encouraged to check for further updates.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:25 PM on December 4, 2006

Remember that this family that was lost for two and a half weeks last March, there is always hope, until there is definitely no hope.
posted by fenriq at 5:25 PM on December 4, 2006

Man, I was driving back from skiing with my six year old through the Cascades last evening thinking about this family, and in a larger context, about having moved from suburban DC to a place where, with dispiriting regularity, people die as a result of nature. When you drive through these mountains it's incredibly easy to see how it happens, and how humbling and scary it is that, despite the sand trucks and warnings, you can go off and kill yourself in a heartbeat for lack of planning and mother nature.

Why is this shit all over the news? I mean, who the fuck cares?

No one cares, keswick. We're obviously saddened to hear they weren't all dismembered by meth addicts.
posted by docpops at 5:30 PM on December 4, 2006

The fact that the wife and kids, especially the little one, are okay is fantastic news.

I hope he is found tonight with the fancy heat sensor helicopter things.

Here's hoping all of the Kims, and all of the rescuers, make it home safe.

keswick and crash: when either of you are lost for a week, you better damn well hope its news, because thats how you get the resources to help find you.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:32 PM on December 4, 2006

Oh, and part of the notoriety of this, if I recall, is that he was part of the Tech industry down in Ca? Anyone clarify?
posted by docpops at 5:33 PM on December 4, 2006

I too was wondering why this was all over the news and particularly why there were tons of stories about it on digg. Is it because the guy in a cnet editor or just the "family lost for extended period of time" angle? It doesn't offend me like it does for keswick, I thought thought it was weird. Hopefully they'll find this guy soon and then they can be on one of those "I shouldn't Be Alive" programs on discovery.
posted by bob sarabia at 5:34 PM on December 4, 2006

Keswick, why did you feel the need to read this post and submit that comment? We find it newsworthy. You don't. So go watch your Nascar and eat your pretzels, and leave the rest of us alone, please!

Personally, I am interested because James Kim is someone I've watched on tv for many years, and he's always seemed like a genuinely nice guy. So yeah, I'm concerned, even though this will not affect my life in the least, whatever the outcome. I'm rooting for him, for him to return to his wife and daughters.

No, it's not the Iraq war, and no, it's not hard news. But it's something that many of us are concerned about, in ADDITION to the hard news.

So go to Fark, please, where your trolling will be better appreciated.
posted by newfers at 5:36 PM on December 4, 2006

"guy is a cnet editor" and "I just thought it was weird"
posted by bob sarabia at 5:36 PM on December 4, 2006

Tech industry and, actually, electronic music collectives. Three of the "raver"email lists I'm on were posting updates, sending people up to Oregon, coordinating rent payments for their businesses, setting up the James and Kati website.

I have known James and Kati very slightly for years through these collectives. He's a smart, tough awesome guy. I hope he'll be OK.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:40 PM on December 4, 2006

oneirodynia: I thought his name looked familiar for something other than CNET. Hyperreal or SF Raves?
posted by loquacious at 5:48 PM on December 4, 2006

This was the first I'd heard of this. It's so nice not to live in the US sometimes.
posted by Pollomacho at 5:51 PM on December 4, 2006

There was a family lost in the same area last year and it was also national news. This family got lost on in the same area as those people. I live about 30 miles from the area. It seems like they need to post bigger warning signs about the road. I was going to take that road back from the Oregon Coast last August and was told it was impassable. It seems like for all of the money they spend on searching they could have several really big signs that warn about the road. There are signs now, but they are not of the nature of - "turn back now, you cannot get to the coast on this road." And to you douchebags loquacious and Crash Davis, I only pray something like this never happens to your family. What idiots you really are, I am saddened to be among your ilk.
posted by tatnasty at 5:53 PM on December 4, 2006

I too was wondering why this was all over the news and particularly why there were tons of stories about it on digg.

Dozens and dozens of people worked hard to get it all over the news, by writing emails, making phone calls, driving to Oregon with flyers. There's a lot of love and respect in the world for James Kim and his family, and a lot of people have been doing whatever they can to help. It doesn't matter what James did for a living; if you're good people, other folks go all out for you.

Anyone who can hold a family of four together for over a week in the ice and freezing temps knows something about surviving. I don't know how many people could spend a day in a car with an infant and a four year old, much less nine days burning tires for heat and living off snacks.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:03 PM on December 4, 2006

loquacious: CloudFactory, and two offshoot lists, including one with folks in Oregon. No doubt hyperreal, FnF, and SFraves (they're all intertwined, to some extent) had significant amounts of support to give as well.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:09 PM on December 4, 2006

Here's a backstory post describing everything for those new to the story.
posted by mathowie at 6:40 PM on December 4, 2006

Now imagine that the family was black.
posted by four panels at 6:50 PM on December 4, 2006

I hadn't heard about this, and I'm happy to hear that they were found safe and all, but I never understood this:

and that there was no food or water in the car

They got stuck in the snow, right? Isn't 'snow' water?

I understand how in arctic conditions, with no shelter, the cost in heat to change snow to water doesn't always make it worth it, but they had a car. I would think that the sun melting snow off the windshield and roof alone would produce some drinkable water, no?

Anyhow, hopefully the father is found safe soon.
posted by quin at 6:56 PM on December 4, 2006

docpops, loquacious: James Kim also was a host on TechTV (appearances on Call for Help, Screensavers, and Fresh Gear), so maybe you remember him from there.
posted by heydanno at 7:04 PM on December 4, 2006

Oh, that's great!!! I was just reading the coverage today and hoping, praying, they were alive in their car somewhere.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:09 PM on December 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

Now imagine that the family was black.

They have black people in Oregon?
posted by Pollomacho at 7:22 PM on December 4, 2006

heydanno: I never really watched any of those, but I've been a member of some of the various California based electronic music/rave email lists, so I was specifically curious about that.
posted by loquacious at 7:23 PM on December 4, 2006

They have black people in Oregon?

I've also wondered about this myself!!!
posted by ramix at 7:53 PM on December 4, 2006

Did Google maps contribute to the Kims' misadventure?

Terri Stone, an innkeeper at the Tu Tu Tun Lodge in Gold Beach, where the Kims were to have stayed the night of Nov. 25, said the road is shown on some Internet road-direction sites as the best way to get to the coast from Grants Pass, but she advises against it.

"It looks like the shortest distance, but it is very, very treacherous,' she said.

posted by jimfl at 8:01 PM on December 4, 2006

quin, if you are ever stranded in a similar situation, remember this: melting snow by eating it wastes valuable body heat.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 8:37 PM on December 4, 2006

Melting snow by using the heat of the running engine on the other hand does not waste body heat.
posted by Pollomacho at 8:51 PM on December 4, 2006

mattbucher, that mathowie seems to be a pretty clever guy.

The biggest drawback I could see would be getting the aircraft in the air and filming quickly enough. And I'm sure there would be a lot of false hits from people trying to be the ones who 'saved' the missing person. Other than that, it seems like a damn fine idea.

At the very least, I can't see how it would hurt. If the rescuers got a tip that clip 109 at 52 seconds showed something interesting, they would be able to check and see if their trained eye felt it was worth investigating.
posted by quin at 9:03 PM on December 4, 2006

"James Kim still missing but wife and kids OK."

Donner Kim, party of four! Er, three!

As for the demographics of Oregon...
posted by davy at 9:10 PM on December 4, 2006

I find it interesting that they pulled records from the cell towers in the area, detailed to the level of individual SMS messages (voicemail annunciator status changes go over SMS) and location-register update messages. I knew the telco kept pretty detailed logs of that kind of thing (from having worked with some telco software people) but I didn't know it was that detailed.
posted by hattifattener at 9:19 PM on December 4, 2006

FYI, mathowie's idea on searching for missing persons like Kim.

That's a pretty cool idea, but reading this story, I can't help but think that stuffing a cellular base station into a helicopter, and flying over the search area would be more effective. You wouldn't need to actually allow calls to the whole world, just something to track numbers as they're registered and have an operator in the copter to call the missing person's phone number if it appears. OTOH, the cellphone could run out of juice by the time the helicopter gets there.
posted by boaz at 9:19 PM on December 4, 2006 is an info site put together by some of our friends who care a lot. It's constantly being updated as new info comes in.

If you don't care, that's okay, live your lives -- just don't be an asshole about it.
posted by jdfalk at 9:43 PM on December 4, 2006

BTW, when I vacationed in Eastern Oregon last year, I had a Motorola V710, one of the few modern phones that still supported analog signals, and I was the only person who had service out there, and I had analog service everywhere. It was spooky. I got a call there while I was halfway up a mountain hiking, and another in front of the campfire. I've since ditched Verizon, but I'm totally saving that phone as an emergency backup for my next backwoods trip.
posted by boaz at 9:43 PM on December 4, 2006

I apologize to the Kim family for my earlier twitticism, should they ever notice and care; I meant nothing by it, I just can't resist a cheap crack.

And we had a recent misadventure thanks to relying on Google Maps, but it only cost us five minutes of driving around in a nearby neighborhood. Not that we'd sue them over a small thing, but are map-makers and/or -distributors theoretically liable for a situation like the Kims'?
posted by davy at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2006

You got a call while hiking? You mean you had your phone on... while camping?
posted by Pollomacho at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2006

Davy, I was being facetious...I'm in Oregon, and I also happen to be black.
posted by ramix at 10:09 PM on December 4, 2006

Ramix, I was just supplying data. And on this page you look kinda white-on-blue, y'know?

Isn't Oregon supposed to be included in the future White Separatist "paradise"? Can't they take something nobody else wants, like North Dakota?
posted by davy at 10:17 PM on December 4, 2006

I was kidding, but looking at the demographics, damn, Oregon is one white bread state!
posted by Pollomacho at 10:32 PM on December 4, 2006

It's true. In fact, fifty years ago, we would have had you upside down and so on and so forth.
posted by cortex at 10:34 PM on December 4, 2006

b1tr0t : I suspect that cell stations expect to be mounted in 23" telcom racks and take 48v DC power.

If history is any indicator, In 10 years it will be a 1U box running off 12 volts. Were we to care to, we could mount them in the back of our flying cars like amplifiers.

/Off topic, there's a great Bruce Sterling book called Heavy Weather that had the concept that with more and more powerful computer chips, eventually the phone companies switches would be condensed into a box. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese would black market it, and it would become a commodity item. The problem was that no one actually understood how any of the switching worked anymore, so when your box died, you would hit the black market and spend $10 to get a new one.

Having paid $200 for a router, then 6 years later, paying $30 to replace it with a much smarter one, I can see his point.
posted by quin at 10:39 PM on December 4, 2006

Google maps is a mapping service, not a weather service. Anybody driving anywhere is responsible for checking on the conditions ahead of time and being prepared for the worst.
posted by 2sheets at 10:54 PM on December 4, 2006

You mean you had your phone on... while camping?

Yeah, I'm sad like that. Even after the campfire call.
posted by boaz at 11:07 PM on December 4, 2006

2sheets: Google maps make that road look like a decent possibility, while in my AAA road atlas it's labelled "closed in winter". However, this SFGate article says they picked up a road map at the Chamber of Commerce.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:15 PM on December 4, 2006

Does anyone know of a successfull lawsuit against Rand-McNally? How about Lonely Planet?

I seriously doubt they would have much of a case against Google, especially since the help center is full of disclaimers such as:

Google Maps may occasionally display incorrect locations or directions. You may also find that the icon for a location you've mapped on a satellite image is off by a house or two. Please be assured that we're continually working to improve the accuracy of this service.


Map information provided through Google is intended for planning purposes only. You may find that construction projects, traffic conditions or other events may cause road conditions to differ from the map results.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:33 AM on December 5, 2006

"Kim is wearing bluejeans, a sweater, a light jacket and tennis shoes."

Damn blue jeans, cotton will try and kill you in the cold.

Lose the cotton underwear and t-shirts, layer it up with polypro, fleece, and then even just a cheap vinyl rain suit to keep the wind off you(also useful for changing that flat in the rain), and you're way ahead of the game. Good socks, some of those cheap rubberized insulated boots the duck hunters use, mittens and a warm hat tossed in the trunk in October can make you feel like a warmer genius in December. And maybe keep an uncomfortable situation from becoming desperate.

Just look around. That down vest you haven't worn in ages? Store it in your trunk in winter, with energy bars in the pockets. Ratty old wool blankets? Trunk!

5 minutes at 50 mph is more than an hour of hiking back. It's 15 degrees right now in Central Illinois, and a five mile hike is nothing anyone wants to do in jeans and a hoodie tonight.

Do not depend on cotton to keep you warm. You'll end up wet, and that way lies hypothermia and the grave.
posted by dglynn at 1:02 AM on December 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Oregon can indeed be treacherous, especially if you think you're a better driver than you are. I was coming back from Utah last year right after Thanksgiving, and somewhere in the Oregon mountains watched a big 4x4 truck do a complete flip, bounce once on its roof, and fall off the side. It was dark so I have no idea how far they fell, but it could conceivably have been off the side of the mountain -- I couldn't see the vehicle from the road. My guess is that the driver swerved for some reason and lost traction.
posted by kindall at 1:03 AM on December 5, 2006

The 35-year-old Kim left the family to look for help Saturday morning dressed in a jacket, sweater and blue jeans and carrying snowshoes, and he never came back.

James Kim left his family with their 2005 Saab station wagon at 7:45 a.m. Saturday and said he would return by 1 p.m. that day, authorities said. He walked about 2 miles along the same road they had driven and then went into a creek drainage, where two trackers were trying to follow his footprints.

After 3+ days in the cold with minimal cold weather clothing and no supplies, it would be some kind of miracle if they find him alive. Let's hope he was extremely resourceful in finding shelter. The odds are against him.
posted by bob sarabia at 1:25 AM on December 5, 2006

FYI, mathowie's idea on searching for missing persons like Kim.

In the near future everyone's gonna have GPS on their cell phones, cars, and belt buckles. I think this problem will solve itself.

It seems like they need to post bigger warning signs about the road.

I'm thinking a black diamond would be a good universal symbol. But they probably need to extend this to signs at interstate off-ramps and helpful displays at rest areas. And maybe handing out those chamber of commerce maps like candy isn't the greatest idea, if they don't have little warning boxes on the blank spaces in between major highways.

Oregon and NoCal are developing a worrisome record of people getting in way over their heads lately and maybe a mutual approach to the problem would help. I know that Australia has paid lots of attention to the issue of unprepared people getting lost in the bush, but I don't know the specific, beyond general advice like always carrying extra water and petrol.

And I hate to speculate along these lines, but you wonder how they mutually got into this, and whether it was male pigheadedness, and if she won't ahve to wonder the rest of her life if things could have gone differently if she'd spoken up sooner. I wish the man well, and I'm pleased that the rest of the family is safe, but between the two of them they put themselves and their children at great risk. The overconfidence disease, we could call it.
posted by dhartung at 2:33 AM on December 5, 2006

Those questioning the publicity should consider, such publicity warns the rest of us that, even in the 21st century, the elements can still take out a car and kill you.

I can't believe how he's dressed. But then, I lived 6 years in rural setting where winter is killer. You keep serious gear in your car, just in case. Daytime highs of -20F aren't a joke!
posted by Goofyy at 4:36 AM on December 5, 2006

It looks like daytime highs in Grant's Pass are in the 50s, night gets down to around 30. I dunno what's the elevation difference between there and the Kims' location, though.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:50 AM on December 5, 2006

That certainly raises the level of hope I'd entertain, so long as he doesn't get too wet.
posted by Goofyy at 5:53 AM on December 5, 2006

According to the Josephine County Sheriff's Office, the search for James Kim continues into the night. No further information will be released tonight. Plans are to provide an update on the search progress Tuesday morning by 10:00 a.m.

Oregon State Police news releases
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:57 AM on December 5, 2006

You can even see on google maps satelite where the road ceases to be plowed. Those are not friendly roads.
posted by killThisKid at 6:29 AM on December 5, 2006

This photo shows the Kims' location pinpointed on a map; the article says they went off the main road on a little spur to try and get out of the snow. The spot pinpointed is just right north off the road from killThisKid's google maps link, but it looks like quite a maze to get to there from the main road.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:49 AM on December 5, 2006

I realize that after nine days, he was anxious to do something to help his family. Whether stranded in snow or a desert, the best action is to stay where you are, however difficult that may be.

I wonder if he told his wife he'd be back in order to get her to let him go look for help, and once he started walking figured he should keep going until he found help. I hope he lives to tell the tale.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 9:41 AM on December 5, 2006

Stay with the motherfuckin' car! Especially when all you have are tennis shoes and a light jacket. His wife and kids did and they are apparently fine.

Hoping against hope that he's ok.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:58 AM on December 5, 2006

Anyone who can hold a family of four together for over a week in the ice and freezing temps knows something about surviving. I don't know how many people could spend a day in a car with an infant and a four year old, much less nine days burning tires for heat and living off snacks.

You don't need to imbue people who survive extreme circumstances with some sort of genius to recognize their experience. None of us really know how many people could do what they did; I doubt most of us know if we ourselves or people we know could do it - that's the very nature of a completely unexpected and harsh tragedy, something most of us - thank Grod - have never been through. We can be glad they survived without canonizing them as the new Daniel Boone.

As far as flying around with a portable cellphone tower you wouldn't really need to haul the whole thing around. You're just looking to find the signals from the phone trying to communicate with a base station. (lots of fun info over here) It would certainly be nice to make the thing ring and talk to the lost person, but it's not the priority I would think.

You might want to send out a pulse to get the phone to try to negotiate with you, but again, that seems like it would be secondary. If you simply had an antenna array that listened for the phone trying to ping a station you'd be able to look for them.

I think the bigger problem is that a phone that's out of reach from a tower expends a lot of energy trying to communicate with a tower. I can't be the only person who has experienced the phenomenon of a phone going dead MUCH quicker when it's in a no-signal area. So people who are stranded somewhere, unless they have some other source of energy like their car battery, likely do not have working phones for you to detect for very long.
posted by phearlez at 12:27 PM on December 5, 2006

You have died of dysentery.
posted by Sparx at 2:01 PM on December 5, 2006

Ok, I don't know much about this area. But why is there not cell phone service? Not enough people living in the area to make it financially viable? You'd think the state government would cover the cost; must be cheaper than these huge search efforts everytime someone gets lost.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:00 PM on December 5, 2006 [1 favorite]

Update: They found his pants. And he wasn't in them.
posted by bob sarabia at 3:13 PM on December 5, 2006

Cell phone band wavelengths bounce off mountains. There are lots of mountains. You'd need lots and lots of towers. More signs would be a lot cheaper.

Latest news is that they found his pants. It's possible it was a rational way to mark his trail, especially if they had become soaked (per dglynn), but undressing is also a sign of late-stage hypothermia.
posted by dhartung at 3:15 PM on December 5, 2006

posted by Flashman at 3:42 PM on December 5, 2006

In one article, they tried to suggest that finding his pants was a good sign. I don't see how they could come to that conclusion.

The article made it seem like they found the pants near where he veered off the road, which an earlier article said was two miles from the car. If that's the case, sounds like he might have succumbed to the cold in the first day he left.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2006

Frankly, the notion that he would take off his pants to mark his trail is laughably stupid. First of all, the last thing you would want to do in cold weather is take your clothes off unless they were soaking wet. Secondly, you could find another way to indicate your path by manipulating the natural scene around you.

However, the fact that taking your clothes off is a classic sign of advancing hypothermia seems like the obvious explanation.
posted by bob sarabia at 4:22 PM on December 5, 2006

This cnet writeup suggests the pants weren't the ones he was wearing.
posted by thirteenkiller at 4:58 PM on December 5, 2006

SFGate is suggesting that the pants were left as an indication of the direction he was moving in. From reports I've read, he had several layers of clothes on and may have had the pants as an extra.

We won't know until they find him. I am still hoping he's alive.
posted by fenriq at 5:06 PM on December 5, 2006

Earlier reports had him in a windbreaker, later ones in a heavy sweater and jacket. They were on a trip, and it does suggest he was into the luggage. But there are easier ways to mark your trail than chucking things which have survival value.

The fact they have to rappel down into a canyon may indicate he fell, or that he took shelter there. Though he had a lighter they haven't said they found any evidence of a fire.

If he took shelter, he could be under a tree or jammed into a niche somewhere, and you'd have to be right there to find him.
posted by dhartung at 6:09 PM on December 5, 2006

Well, this guy's posts (evidently he lives a couple of hours away) suggest that he may have decided to follow the river to get to the lodges that are on its banks, and may have left his spare pair of trousers to let any searchers know that he'd left the road. The family seemed like they were pretty resourceful - nursing both kids, burning tires. I hope he's okay.
posted by jamesonandwater at 7:08 PM on December 5, 2006

Satellite to be rerouted in James Kim search!!!
posted by rom1 at 8:26 AM on December 6, 2006

MSNBC just reported that seraches are dropping 18 'care packages' in the region they believe James Kim in in. They're erecting a temporary cellular tower and have discovered and have found more items of clothing -- including a girl's blue dress -- and torn pieces from a map belived to be left as markers by Kim to let rescuers know his route. The family has confirmed that the items found were indeed carried by Kim as he left them earlier this week.
posted by ericb at 10:43 AM on December 6, 2006

posted by ericb at 10:44 AM on December 6, 2006

We have a small number of high-density cities (Portland, Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco) and a number of tiny communities dotting the landscape. The rest is rugged wilderness.

I would argue that this is true of most of the United States west of the Mississippi. For example, the Southwest, where the desert makes survival difficult.
posted by drezdn at 11:18 AM on December 6, 2006 [1 favorite]

Reports are that he's been found but there's no word yet on what his condition is. They spotted a person face down and are lowering rescuers to the site.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:37 PM on December 6, 2006

posted by thirteenkiller at 12:49 PM on December 6, 2006

Live feed from KGW-TV reports that Kim was found dead.
posted by ericb at 12:50 PM on December 6, 2006

MSNBC says he's dead.
posted by thirteenkiller at 12:51 PM on December 6, 2006

posted by ericb at 12:51 PM on December 6, 2006

sfgate reporting he's been found dead as well.

this story really struck me for some reason. i was really hoping he'd make it out too.
posted by fishfucker at 1:02 PM on December 6, 2006

RIP James.
posted by jamesonandwater at 1:05 PM on December 6, 2006


This sucks. I was obsessively reloading Google News all day in the hopes that I'd see some good news.

Always stay with the car.
posted by bshort at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2006

James Kim's body found
It really began to seem inevitable.

posted by dhartung at 1:07 PM on December 6, 2006

posted by loiseau at 1:10 PM on December 6, 2006

posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:12 PM on December 6, 2006

New thread
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 1:21 PM on December 6, 2006

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