I somehow ended up following this story closely. Very, very sad.
San Francisco Chronicle
Searchers find missing dad’s body
Peter Fimrite, Jaxon Van Derbeken and Marisa Lagos
James Kim Found Dead
(12-06) 17:04 PST GRANTS PASS, ORE. — James Kim died in the southern Oregon mountains after what one rescue leader described as a “superhuman” trek across nearly impassable terrain to try to find help for his family.
The body of the missing San Francisco man was found today, 11 days after his family’s car became stuck on a side road in the snow and four days after he ventured off to look for help.
Kim, 35, died after picking his way nearly to the end of a steep, 5-mile canyon that leads down to the Rogue River in the Siskiyou National Forest west of Grants Pass. Wearing tennis shoes, he had to climb around boulders and over fallen trees in an dripping-wet environment where rescuers said they were wet within half an hour.
“Based on what the searchers were describing, the terrain they were working in, it seems superhuman to me,” Josephine County Undersheriff Brian Anderson said of Kim’s effort.
A helicopter crew spotted Kim’s body half a mile from where Big Windy Creek empties out of the ravine and into the Rogue River. Rescue workers had been focusing their efforts in the canyon for the past several days after following Kim’s tracks there, and had gotten to within a quarter-mile of where he wa found.
“We are devastated,” Anderson said at an earlier press conference in Grants Pass, about 20 miles east of where Kim died. “I’m crushed.”
Kim first hiked about 5 miles up a road from where he had been stranded with his family for a week, then turned into the ravine. He had crossed from one side of Big Windy Creek to the other as tried to find a route down the canyon, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters said.
Kim’s body was found at a place where the terrain becomes impassable on both sides because two sheer cliffs line the creek.
“He was probably too weak to get back up out of there,” Winters said.
“I admire his effort, I truly do,” Winters said of Kim. “He has a lot of intestinal fortitude. He comes from the city without a lot of outdoors experience and he was tough on his feet, he was very meticulous. . . . He had a strong will to survive.”
It’s not known whether Kim knew that he was approaching the Rogue River, but authorities said he wouldn’t have found civilization had he made it. The area is virtually uninhabited.
Kim was spotted by a helicopter crew that his family had hired, Anderson said. The body was taken to the Oregon State Police Crime Lab, where a medical examiner will determine the cause and time of death. Autopsy results may be released as soon as Thursday.
Earlier in the day, authorities said Kim had been leaving clothing and bits of maps in the canyon, apparently as a trail for searchers to track.
“He was motivated — I mean, we were having difficulty in there,” Anderson said. “That was what has so frustrating; we couldn’t seem to get in front of him.”
The discovery marked the end of a saga that was closely watched in San Francisco, where Kim worked at the tech news site Cnet, and around the nation.
Kim left his wife and two daughters Saturday morning to look for help, a week after the family became stranded off Bear Camp Road in the mountains between Grants Pass and Gold Beach. His wife, Kati, 30, and daughters Penelope, 4, and 7-month-old Sabine remained with their car, 15 miles down a dead-end logging road, and were rescued Monday.
“We want the Kim family to know that we appreciate all of their support — they have been true champions throughout this whole ordeal,” said Oregon State Police Lt. Gregg Hastings. “We just want them to know that our thoughts and our prayers have been with them from day one.”
Hastings said that “the commitment by those involved in the search for Kati, for the kids and for James has gone nonstop around the clock. This is obviously extremely tough on those who have had an emotional commitment over the last several days here.”
Winters also became emotional while talking about the family, noting that Kim’s father, Spencer Kim, had been particularly involved.
“I admire Mr. Kim’s love for his son,” Winters said. “We take this very personally. (His father) was there, he was relentless in his support of us. When he looks you in the eye and says he is depending on you, it’s tough.”
Authorities had remained upbeat about Kim’s prospects for survival, despite temperatures that dipped into the 20s.
Rescue crews had dropped care packages in the area earlier today and on Tuesday. The packages, paid for by Spencer Kim, each included clothing, a wool blanket, gloves, waterproof overalls, flares, a flashlight, a hand-warmer and rations. Each package also had a letter from Kim’s family.
The Kims left San Francisco on Nov. 18 for a combined vacation and work trip for James Kim. They spent Thanksgiving in Seattle with family, then went to Portland, where they had brunch with a friend Nov. 25.
The family then left on their way to a stopover in Gold Beach. At 8:30 that night, they ate dinner in the central Oregon town of Roseburg, where authorities say they intended to take state Highway 42 over to the coast.
However, they missed the turnoff, consulted a map and decided to drive the 55 miles down Interstate 5 to Grants Pass. There they turned onto Bear Camp Road, which is lightly traveled even in the summer and often is closed in the winter.
It was stormy, and around the 3,000-foot elevation, about 50 miles from their intended destination, James Kim turned off onto the logging road. He drove several miles before stopping.
The Kims ran the engine of their station wagon to power its heater, and when the gas was gone, they burned the tires. They ate what little food they had, and Kati Kim breastfed her two daughters.
Kati Kim was spotted Monday afternoon by a private helicopter pilot.