Autopsy Expected on Body of Missing Dad

The Associated Press
Thursday, December 7, 2006; 1:58 AM

MERLIN, Ore. -- A San Francisco man who struck out alone to find help for his family after their car got stuck on a snowy, remote road was found dead Wednesday, bringing an end to what authorities called an extraordinary effort to stay alive.

Authorities planned to announce the results of an autopsy on Thursday.

Searchers had been following James Kim's footprints in the snow and searching by helicopter since his wife and two young daughters were rescued Monday. They also found pieces of his clothing, which they believed he left and arranged to give searchers clues to his whereabouts in Oregon's Coast Range.

Before rescue crews could drop packages with clothing, emergency gear and provisions, a search helicopter spotted Kim's body at the foot of the Big Windy Creek drainage, a half-mile from the Rogue River, where ground crews and helicopters had been searching for days.

"He was very motivated," said a tearful Undersheriff Brian Anderson. "We were having trouble in there. He traveled a long distance."

Investigators believe he traveled about eight miles in total, and said there was no way he could have reached the car directly from where he was found.

The body was taken to Central Point for an autopsy.

Kim was a senior editor for the technology media company CNET Networks Inc. He and his family had been missing since Nov. 25. They were heading home to San Francisco after a family vacation in the Pacific Northwest.

Kim's wife, Kati, 30, told officers that the couple made a wrong turn and became stuck in the snow. They used their car heater until they ran out of gas, then burned tires to stay warm and attract attention. With only a few jars of baby food and limited supplies, Kati Kim nursed her daughters Penelope, 4, and Sabine, 7 months.

The family burned tires in an attempt to create signal flares, authorities said. At night, they huddled together for warmth.

The key to finding Kati Kim and the two children, police said, was a "ping" from one of the family's cell phones that helped narrow down their location.

When they were rescued, Kim's family told authorities that he struck out on Saturday to find help, wearing tennis shoes, pants and a heavy coat, but no hat. His family said he had some outdoor experience, and authorities said he was carrying two lighters.

He had a specific plan: He would leave early Saturday morning, go back the way the family came, and if he couldn't find anyone, he would return in a few hours. Just before 8 a.m. Saturday, his family said, he left to carry it out.

Hours turned into days _ and he never came back.


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