James Kim Found Dead. Questions.

December 7, 2006

UPDATE: SebRT.com reader Dave commented with a link that better described how the family lost their way on the day that the Kims got stuck in the show. The San Fransisco Chronicle has the story. Rescuers were amazed at James Kim’s resolve to save his family, on terrain that they were having difficulty with, they tried in vain to get ahead of him. It is unfortunate that if Kim had followed the road he was on further than he did he would have come to a lodge, although abandoned for the winter, Rescuers checked it more than once during the investigation. An autopsy of James Kim will be performed to determine the cause of death, those details have not been released as of yet.

I would like to extend my condolences to the family of former CNET worker, James Kim. James was lost in the wilderness of Oregon after he went looking for help when his family’s car got stuck in the snow on a road later to be determined to be closed on the journey home to San Francisco, California. The police praised the Kim family for being “true champions” during the investigation.

I was listening to TWiT #79 yesterday and right at the end Leo Laporte mentioned his former co-worker, James Kim, had gone missing during the Thanksgiving Holiday and was still lost. Apparently, James had worked with Leo and especially closely with Patrick Norton when they used to produce “Screen Savers.” It was a short while after I had listened to TWiT when I came across the headline with the news on CNN.

I am confused as to why James and his family took a road that remains unplowed in the winter. Surely, you would know the road was a no-goer before you got too far down it and away from the civilization. For some reason the family did not go back to the main road and became stuck in the snow. It seems after days of waiting James Kim went out into the Oregon wilderness in search of help. The situation seemed to worsen when the emergency services became involved.

According to CNN, emergency packages were dropped in the hopes that Kim would find one I don’t understand if they were dropping packages why they were not including mobile satellite phones, long range radios or something more useful to him than a note from his family with his life at total risk in the elements. I understand that they should include that as a moral boost for him should he find it, but it seemed like not enough was being done right by the emergency services when I read over the reports from CNN.

There’s a couple of things that don’t make sense and I have thought about them since I read the news piece. Did the car travel a great distance onto the twisty mountain road? If it did, how did it become stuck and why wasn’t it possible to get the car unstuck? If the snow started to be more intense as they traveled up a road that was quite obviously not in use (not plowed) shouldn’t they have turned back before it was too late? If I was traveling in weather so obviously hostile, I would not make the decision to travel up a snowed down, abandoned mountain road. The only way I can accept that they were unaware of the status of the road is if it were too dark.

The family told CNN that they burned the tires of the car to survive once the petrol was all used…The car must have been seriously mired in the snow to justify burning the tires, but if the tires were accessible to remove and burn, in what way was the car stuck in the snow? Why was it considered a viable course of action to destroy any chances of moving the car by burning the tires? What kind of accelerant did the family have at their disposal to start the tires on fire?

From my understanding Kim waited in the car with him family for 9 days before attempting to go for help. 9 days is an eternity when stuck in the snow. I am not too clear on this part of the story and will update here as I learn more.

There is something amiss with this case. I can’t quite figure out some of the choices that were made, both by the Kim family and the rescuers.


5 Responses to “James Kim Found Dead. Questions.”

  1. Dave Says:

    This is a detailed article of exactly how they became lost. Note the wrong turn; then the distance Jame’s would have had to walk had he stayed on the road. One additional trajedy, once he went down the ravine he trekked eight miles in a near circle and perished only a half mile from the car.


  2. Thank you for the update Dave. I have ammended the post accordingly. -Sebastian.

  3. Louise Says:

    Your “unanswered questions” are exactly the same as I have been considering. Most people become upset if anyone doubts the wisdom of the decisions made by James Kim and his wife and so I haven’t expressed my concerns.

    I too really wonder how they became so “stuck” without a crash or any new snowfall. As you said, if they could remove all five wheels, the snow must not have been very deep. Why couldn’t they get “unstuck” using rocks, tree branches, etc. in the usually manner?

  4. Whip Says:

    Still pondering how James Kim started a tire on fire….I did it once to burn a pine tree (stump). Started it with a gallon of gas and match…it made a lot nasty black smoke,.

    Mr. Kim has become, in our office a flatlander legend…a guy who’s really into tech stuff,using hard copy maps, discovered by a “ping” on a cell phone site and being bagged by the general poplulation as question mark in navigation…the real bag should be why technology failed… with a guy very familar with its promises.

  5. Damon Says:

    Whip you said what I have been thinking. How does a guy from TechTv, a show used to enjoy go out without his laptop and a 99 dollar GPS mapping software like delorme. How is it he doesn’t have a phone charger to run off the car battery? I am not asking to be mean but to question the validity of what occured. Did he realy believe that anything short of a well modified jeep could survive a mount pass? Was he that arrogant?

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