James Kim


As most of the Bay Area and some of the country have followed the story of James Kim over the past week, so have I. Initially the name didn’t sound familiar, but after reading more and seeing some photos, I realized James Kim had made numerous appearances on TechTV’s The Screensavers. Both Tiffany and myself loved that show, mainly for the quirky, fun-loving gadget gurus on the show. Yes, it turned out I had seen James Kim review everything from the latest Palm phone to engraved iPods.

For those that don’t know, James and his wife Kati, along with their two children had been driving back from Thanksgiving in Seattle to their home in San Francisco. As they passed through Oregon they ended up on narrow mountain roads which quickly became covered in snow and ice. Their car slid off the road and became stuck. Cell phone coverage in the mountain area is limited, so they could not call for help and just waited in the protection of their car. After waiting for nearly seven days, living off baby food and burning their car tires for heat, James reached the grim conclusion that they would not be found and he must go in search of help to save his family. After what was surely an emotionally goodbye with his family, James set out on Sat, Dec. 2 to find a nearby town of Galice.

Now missing over a week, James and Kati’s family began their own search efforts. Using the last known cell signal of James phone as a starting point, search teams were organized both on ground and in the air. On Dec. 4, Kati’s umbrella-turned-SOS-sign was seen by a passing rescue helicopter and shortly after, Kati and her children were safely airlifted to a local hospital — the whole time, begging for them to continue to search for James. The search for James did continue, and on Dec. 7, after following a trail of clothes and torn map pieces, James’ body was found floating in a small pond. He had died of hypothermia after trekking nearly 10 miles through the frozen mountains trying desperately to find help for his family.

I ask myself if I would handle this situation any differently. I don’t know. I guess nobody knows until they are faced with it.

The question which has been circulating without an answer is, why were they on this back-mountain road which is considered undrivable during Winter? One news story says the Kims had used Google Maps to chart their journey home and it is this route which takes them on this dangerous path. The article says:…

When using the Yahoo Maps, MapQuest and Google Maps online services to plot directions from Grants Pass to Gold Beach, Yahoo and MapQuest both recommend taking the same, safer highway route, while Google suggests a shortcut through roads that become dangerous in winter.

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