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#78867 - 12/05/06 11:51 AM James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
jmbrowning Offline
model citizen
Stranger

Registered: 09/05/04
Posts: 19
There is nothing so easy to learn as experience and nothing so hard to apply.--Josh Billings

AP and Seattle Times have some details here.

Although not all the facts are currently available, the following appear true:
  • 35 year old man (James Kim, CNET editor and writer), 30 year old woman (Kati Kim, owner of clothing store and apothecary), 4 year old child and 7 month old infant from San Francisco traveling in Oregon for Thanksgiving holidays
  • Driving 2005 9-2X AWD wagon (Saab 9-2X specs )
  • Notified lodge they would be arriving late using cellphone
  • Report indicates family requested a scenic route to get to Gold Beach
  • The family had intended to take Highway 42 from Interstate 5 to the coast, but missed the turnoff and decided to take Bear Camp Road instead. They went the wrong way at a fork in the road and ended up 15 miles from Bear Camp Road.
  • Family arrived at Bear Camp Road after dark (normally closed/not plowed in winter)
  • Travelled up to Bear Camp Viewpoint in mountains and tried to reverse course by taking spur road
  • Travelled two miles on spur road before becoming snowbound
  • Became snowbound on Nov. 25 and never arrived at lodge
  • Food in vehicle limited to baby food and few snacks
  • Weather 40-50F Hi's and 20-30F lows
  • Kept warm using auto heater and when ran out of fuel by burning tire rubber
  • James Kim tried eating unidentified wild berries for nutrition
  • Mother nursed children
  • Dec 2 James Kim set out on foot for help "wearing only tennis shoes, pants, a sweater and a jacket." Other kit carried not known. SF Chronicle indicates Kim was wearing blue jeans.
  • Some reports indicate Kim may have been carrying snowshoes
  • James Kim left auto at 0745 and indicated he would return by 1300. According to family, James Kim had some outdoor experience.
  • According to law enforcement, Kim hiked 2 miles along the road and then into a creek drainage. Tracks at that point then lost.
  • Dec 4 at 1345, helicopter found car and Kati Kim signalling using umbrella with reflective tape attached. The cellphone message to the lodge was localized to a cellphone tower which allowed searchers to focus on the Bear Camp Road area.
  • Mother and children in "remarkable shape"
  • In March, a family of six in RV was stuck in nearby location for 17 days before being rescued.


My prayers go out to the Kim family for a rapid recovery after their rescue. I pray that the Lord will watch over James until he is safely reunited with his wife and children.

I hope that we can all learn from this mishap as many of us (on this board in particular) might find ourselves in this situation.
It seems to me that the Kims made several missteps that led to a life-threatening emergency.
  • No detailed travel plan with family and friends
  • Deviation from the original plan by taking a shortcut/scenic road
  • Travelling in unfamiliar territory after dark
  • Inadequate vehicle kit and food while travelling in area known to have trapped motorists before
  • Not having clothing appropriate to the overnight weather
  • Leaving the vehicle for help with inadequate clothing/kit
  • Travelling into the creek drainage area instead of staying on the road


Admittedly, hindsight is 20/20 and this young urban professional family did not anticipate getting caught out in the wilderness for days.

Their vehicle is small and doesn't have a lot of room for kit, especially with two kids. When our family road-trips, it is usually in the Dodge 3500 4x4 dually, so space is a little less of an issue. Once in a while, we will take the Subaru Outback which is closer in size and capability to the 9-2X that became stuck.

I'll be posting more details as they become available. In the interim, member thoughts on safe snow travel and snowbound contingency plans are appreciated.
_________________________
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

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#78868 - 12/05/06 02:33 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4594
Loc: SOCAL
I didn't realize anyone was lost until I saw that the mother and two children were found safe. I'm sure leaving was a hard decision for James Kim, but when desperation sets in, people have a tendency to not act rationally. So we plan to avoid desperation.

Unfortunately, I think James Kim became desperate which led him to make a bad choice and take risks he should have avoided. It's difficult to watch your family going hungry, especially when you hold yourself to blame.

We've all heard the old saying, "When you're lost in the backwoods and find a stream, follow it. It leads to civilization." Total speculation, but when someone leaves a road to follow a creek, they're losing rational thought, that's bad. You are already on a road, that leads to civilization too and it's easier walking.

Hopes and prayers go to the Kim family.

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#78869 - 12/05/06 02:52 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
bmisf Offline
Member

Registered: 03/19/03
Posts: 185
Especially in winter, extra gear is a must. I have a survival kit in a backpack, plus a Bibler tent, sleeping bag, and blankets that go in the trunk. Extra diesel fuel in a 2.5 gallon container, plus a multi-fuel stove that can burn it and a large pot for melting snow. Snow shovel, tire chains, gloves, car repair stuff.

After reading this story, I think I'll add some additional food, plus make some coffee can candle/melter kits. I often have a GPS, handheld ham radio, and cell phone with me (especially if I'm going backpacking/snow camping), but I think I'll make a communications kit and have that in there too. I usually have a PSK and PFAK with me at all times, but even though the main kit has all of that stuff and more, I think I'll make sure they're always on me anyway.

I think I'll add an axe and saw to the mix. Another thing that comes to mind is good maps and information on repeaters and other communications. The GPS can be preloaded with a lot of data, so that's a place to start, but since it could die or run out of batteries, I'll have to look at some other sort of backup and paper (tough given the scope of territory I drive through to get to the Sierra Nevada).

What else would we all add to the lists?

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#78870 - 12/05/06 02:53 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
Doug_Ritter Online   happy

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1944
This may well serve as a classic example of why your should stay put! The big question in my mind, did he decide to go because he felt it was the only solution and his "duty" or because mom insisted? Lots of potential psychological dynamics in a situation such as this.

I'll note that a 406 MHz PLB would have gotten them rescued promptly.
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Editor
Equipped To Survive®
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#78871 - 12/05/06 03:18 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
norad45 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/01/04
Posts: 1506
According to the link it was private searchers hired by the family that found them. That means somebody missed them. They let somebody know where they were supposed to be, and that is the cardinal rule of wilderness travel.

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#78872 - 12/05/06 03:21 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
norad45 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/01/04
Posts: 1506
If I were on a road, had snowshoes, and my family had been stuck for 9 days I'd probably chance walking out as well. I hope he makes it.

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#78873 - 12/05/06 03:25 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
Doug_Ritter Online   happy

Pooh-Bah

Registered: 01/28/01
Posts: 1944
More likely than not, YOU wouldn't find yourself in such a dire situation so ill-prepared. <~>
_________________________
Doug Ritter
Editor
Equipped To Survive®
Chairman & Executive Director
Equipped To Survive Foundation
www.KnifeRights.org
www.DougRitter.com

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#78874 - 12/05/06 03:29 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
norad45 Offline
Veteran

Registered: 07/01/04
Posts: 1506
Quote:
More likely than not, YOU wouldn't find yourself in such a dire situation so ill-prepared. <~>

Roger that, especially after having hung out here for awhile! <img src="/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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#78875 - 12/05/06 04:19 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
Russ Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 06/02/06
Posts: 4594
Loc: SOCAL
There is always the need to do something so people find themselves doing the wrong thing. It's really tough to beat those feelings of helplessness, so you "go for help".

One of if not the primary kits I have is the one in my car. But I'd also have my GPS (long trip I'd both of them) which I could use to backtrack if I decided I had to walk out. More likely though, I set up camp, get a fire going, then have a cup of tea and dinner. It's an adventure, not an emergency. I'd check the GPS and maps to see where I was in relation to major roads. Then if I deided to walk out I'd orienteer my way out using the GPS bread crumb trail and logging road as a guide. I would not be busting brush or trying to follow and overgrowth laden stream. You are much more likely to be found walking on a logging road than following a stream to the Pacific.

Good point about the 406 MHz PLB. Relatively speaking, it's cheap insurance.

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#78876 - 12/05/06 06:32 PM Re: James Kim: Snowbound Vehicle Info and Analysis
JCWohlschlag Offline
Some guy who wandered in…
Old Hand

Registered: 11/26/06
Posts: 724
Loc: Dallas, Pennsylvania, United S...
One question I'm interested in is whether they had a map with them. You cannot really tell from the publicized stories whether they got lost or whether they just got stuck. From all the different roads you mentioned though, it does sound like they may have had another simple misstep in not having a map and/or GPS.

After all, the best means of surviving any dangerous situation is to flat-out avoid it in the first place.
_________________________
“Hiking is just walking where it’s okay to pee. Sometimes old people hike by mistake.” — Demitri Martin

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