December 6, 2006 12:54 PM PST
James Kim found deceased
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Kim's body was transported to the Oregon State Police office in Central Point, Ore., and autopsy results released Thursday determined that Kim died of exposure with hypothermia. The 35-year-old Kim had been missing in the remote southwestern Oregon wilderness for 11 days and was found at approximately noon Wednesday about half a mile from the Rogue River, authorities said.
"In my eyes, as a father, and in the eyes of his family, he is a true hero. He took the difficult but at the same time easy decision to risk his life to save the lives of those he loved the most...Rest in peace, brave man."
Kim left his family's stranded car Saturday morning searching for help and never returned. Kim apparently traveled in a 10-mile circle and was found less than a mile, separated by a sheer cliff, from where his family's station wagon got stuck in the snow. Officers said there was no way to determine whether he was trying to return to his starting point or if he became disoriented.
"He was very motivated...he traveled a long way," Josephine County Undersheriff Brian Anderson said.
The Kim family has asked that it not be contacted, and that flowers and donations not be sent at this time. Once the family has decided how they want Kim to be honored, CNET will release details.
"They have been true champions throughout this whole ordeal," Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police said of the Kim family. "We just want them to know our thoughts and our prayers have been with them from day one."
After being rescued in good condition Monday, Kim's 30-year-old wife, Kati, and daughters Penelope (4 years) and Sabine (7 months) have been reunited with family members. Kati Kim suffered frostbite on two toes, but will not lose those toes, according to a close family friend.
While stranded, the family stayed warm using the car heater, then burned tires when they ran out of gas, authorities said. Kati Kim also nursed the girls.
James Kim, Kati, Penelope and Sabine left their home in San Francisco two weeks ago on a Thanksgiving road trip to the Pacific Northwest. They had been last seen on the Saturday after the holiday in Portland and later at a Denny's restaurant in Roseburg, according to a San Francisco Police Department missing persons report.
The family was expected to return to San Francisco on November 27. When both James and Kati failed to show up for appointments on November 28, co-workers began to worry for their safety. The Kims are known for keeping in touch daily with their friends and co-workers, either by phone or e-mail.
Throughout the Kims' ordeal, messages of support and concern numbering into the thousands have continued to pour in to CNET, as well as to a Web site set up by family and friends. That site was available only intermittently following release of the news Wednesday.
James Kim was a senior editor covering digital audio who also co-hosted a weekly video podcast for the Crave gadgets blog (read Kim's CNET profile here). He had been writing a book on Microsoft's Zune MP3 player. Formerly, he was an on-air personality on the now-defunct cable television network TechTV.
Anderson said searchers were devastated at Wednesday's discovery. "I'm crushed," said the choked-up sheriff.
Upon hearing the news, CNET readers immediately began to post condolences on the site's message boards. They also sent e-mails to Kim's co-workers expressing their sadness.
"James kept his wife and kids alive while sacrificing his own life and I believe all men who read this story will hold James in the highest regard as a man among men who gave his two children the rest of their lives," one reader wrote.
"My family and I will continue to pray for James' family...When I try to put myself in his shoes, I think James did what every parent would do for his family. James, God bless," wrote another.
James, Kati and Sabine Kim
And another: "Please realize that there were so many people praying for his safe return...I'm sorry!"
At CNET's San Francisco headquarters, employees convened to share their grief and discuss ways they could memorialize and honor their beloved colleague.
"This has been an incredibly heartwrenching experience for all involved," CEO Neil Ashe said. "I know that I speak for everyone here at CNET Networks when I say that James Kim was a hero. We will miss him greatly."
A refocused full-scale search for James Kim involving helicopters, Sno-Cats, four-wheel-drive vehicles, river rafts and searchers on foot had been under way since Kim's wife and daughters were rescued Monday. Late afternoon on Tuesday, searchers found several items left by Kim, including a pair of pants and the remains of an Oregon map, and officials believed he may have left them as markers or indicators of his path.Rescue workers at a Wednesday evening press conference said the terrain that confronted Kim was rugged, with poison oak, slippery rocks and moss and loose earth.
Searchers also said the conditions in the canyon were such that rescuers got soaked within 30 minutes of descending into it. The rescue workers were wearing protective gear; Kim was wearing only street clothes.
Asked what kind of effort he thought was needed to cover the ground Kim traveled, Anderson said, "It seems superhuman to me that he did what he did."
On Wednesday morning, authorities, still expressing hope that Kim was alive, announced plans to drop care packages strategically along the route where Kim was believed to be. The bundles contained warm clothing and provisions, as well as a personal letter from Kim's family described as a "father's plea to his son" to let Kim know help was on the way.
CNET News.com's Greg Sandoval contributed to this report.
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