The Kims and The Doomed Trip

Who Was Responsible?

Lessons to Learn

Afterthoughts: Summer 2007

Media and Official Reports Archive


Nov. 17 (Friday): James and Kati Kim and their two daughters left San Francisco in their family car for Seattle to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with relatives.

Nov. 24 (Friday): The Kims left Seattle for Portland, and stayed overnight there.

Nov. 25 (Saturday): The Kims spent the morning in Portland with a friend and left shortly after noon. They stopped at a tourist information center just south of Portland for a map and route information. Five or six hours later, they refueled the car near the town of Halsey, about an hour south of the tourist information center and 230 miles from their destination. At 5:45 p.m. they called the resort from Halsey to say that they would be late and to ask that a key be left for them. NOTE: Kati Kim claims that the family spent the day in Portland; never stopped for map and route information; and left the city at about 5 p.m.

The Kims drove to Roseburg, a Southern Oregon town, where they stopped for dinner. They left for Gold Beach at about 9:30 p.m., with a three-hour drive ahead of them via I-5, Oregon Hwy. 42 and U.S. Hwy. 101. Authorities say Mrs. Kim told them they missed the Hwy. 42 turnoff, consulted an official Oregon highway map and decided to use a route that took them along Bear Camp Road, a narrow, steep Forest Service road considered hazardous by local travelers and labeled “closed in winter” on their map.

As the Kims proceeded up the rapidly climbing trail, they passed four signs warning that their route “may be blocked by snowdrifts” ahead. About 14 miles up Bear Camp Road and 27 miles from I-5, the Kims reached an intersection with a logging road. They stayed on the main route, going past the fourth warning sign of the night. It cautioned that the route may be blocked by snowdrifts six miles ahead. Shortly thereafter, as heavy snow fell, Mr. Kim decided to back his car down the narrow road until they returned to the logging road intersection.

Rather than turn around and head back to I-5, the Kims decided to take the logging road, which appeared to lead to a lower elevation. They traveled along the unpaved logging road for 21 miles, stopping occasionally to remove rocks from their path. By 2 a.m., the Kims realized they were disoriented and stopped for the night.

Nov. 26 (Sunday): Rain was falling when the Kims awoke. Rather than drive back toward I-5, they decided to stay where they were. Mrs. Kim told authorities they feared becoming stuck in snow, and believed they would soon be discovered by rangers. They periodically ran their car’s engine to generate heat.

Nov. 27 (Monday): They awoke to heavy snow. The Kims melted snow for drinking water, and periodically ran the engine to generate heat.

Nov. 28 (Tuesday): The Kims remained in their car and periodically ran the engine to generate heat. It snowed and rained all day.

Nov. 29 (Wednesday): Weather started to clear. The Kims started fires with magazines and wet driftwood to stay warm. In San Francisco, the Kims’ housesitter filed a missing-persons report with the local police.

Nov. 30 (Thursday): Their car ran out of gas. The Kims used a spare tire to start a fire in the afternoon. Portland, Oregon police began investigating the missing person report. That night, the first reports about the Kims appeared in the news media.

Dec. 1 (Friday): They burned all four remaining tires to signal for help and for heat. The fire burned out in the afternoon. They heard a helicopter, but couldn’t locate it.

Dec. 2 (Saturday): About 7:45 a.m. James left the car in search of help. He built a fire for Kati and the children, and said he would return by 1 p.m. The Kims thought the town of Galice was 4 miles away, but it was actually 15 miles away. James set out for Galice, walking on a road for about 10 miles before turning off into the Big Windy Creek ravine. Kati Kim saw and heard a helicopter but failed to get its attention. James Kim didn't return in the afternoon.

Dec. 3 (Sunday): After walking about 16 miles and spending a night outdoors, James Kim died of hypothermia. Note: The exact time of death cannot be known, but the condition of the body and the route walked by Mr. Kim makes it likely he died Saturday or Sunday.

Dec. 4 (Monday): A helicopter searcher spotted Kati Kim and her children at their family car. They were taken to a hospital, interviewed by authorities and released in good health.

Dec. 5 (Tuesday): Search and rescue personnel found clothes and other items identified as belonging to James Kim, arranged in a pattern intended to give searchers clues to his whereabouts.

Dec. 6 (Wednesday): A helicopter pilot hired by Spencer Kim found James Kim’s body lying in a shallow section of Big Windy Creek.

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