December 5, 2006 8:28 AM PST

Searchers keep up hunt for CNET editor in rugged terrain

A full-scale search is continuing Tuesday for CNET senior editor James Kim, who left his family's stranded car in snowy southwest Oregon Saturday to seek help.

Oregon State Lieutenant Gregg Hastings has confirmed that searchers found a pair of pants they suspect James Kim left behind at the bottom of a ravine, where he is believed to have traveled on foot. Unconfirmed reports from local news stations say rescuers may also have found another of his personal items near the pants.

"You could speculate maybe he's trying to leave a signal as he's moving about," Hastings said in answering reporters' questions about the pants. "He may have also taken some other things that he could have left in other, different positions."

Hastings said he did not know whether the pants were blue jeans, which Kim was said to have been wearing when he left his stranded family car Saturday morning in search of help.

Rescue teams are currently searching for James in a 5-mile stretch of a narrow canyon a few miles from where the car was found, Josephine County Undersheriff Brian Anderson said at a press conference Tuesday, adding that "it is a very rugged, remote area; the teams are having some difficulty because of the terrain and conditions."

Kim's wife and two young daughters were found alive and well Monday after surviving more than a week stranded in the wilderness. They have since been reunited with family.

Kim family found

Even so, searchers are well-acquainted with the area.

"We have done several (searches) over the years in that area. It's not uncommon," Anderson said.

Weather conditions in the area where Kim is believed to be have been "clear and cold," Anderson said, with temperatures at night dropping to the high 20s and low 30s Fahrenheit.

Asked about the dangers Kim faced of exposure, Anderson said, "That is a concern of ours. He didn't have a hat, and you lose a lot of body heat that way. He left wearing tennis shoes, blue jeans and heavy jacket. He did have a lighter with him."

Approximately 100 individuals are involved with the search, which is focused on the Big Windy Creek Drainage, about 30 miles northwest of Grants Pass, according to Oregon State Police.

Efforts currently involve four helicopters, two rafts floating down the Rogue River, Sno-Cats, four-wheel-drive vehicles and at least a dozen searchers on foot, Anderson said Tuesday. Dog and horse patrols are on standby, but it was determined that the terrain is not conducive to those types of searches.

Anderson said the search will continue through Tuesday night and Wednesday. Another press conference is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. PST, and CNET will stream it live.

"He's a resourceful guy, and we're hoping for the best," Mike Weinstein, a detective for the Portland Police Bureau's Missing Persons Unit, said of James Kim on Monday.

Click here to Play

Video: Searchers still on James Kim's trail

Kati Kim, 30, and daughters Penelope and Sabine--4 years and 7 months, respectively--were treated at Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass. Sabine was held overnight for observation, and Kati and Penelope stayed overnight with Sabine, though not as patients, hospital officials said. Sabine will likely be discharged Tuesday, officials said.

The lost family had "minor provisions" and stayed warm using the car heater, then burned tires when they ran out of gas, authorities said. Kati Kim also nursed the girls.

"James set up camp for them, just like it was a camping trip for them, to help them get through it. They had the store of things that they would normally have for the girls...bottled water, blankets," Sandy Fleming, Kati's mother, said Tuesday on the ABC program Good Morning America.

After searches in Oregon's Curry and Douglas counties, cell phone signals narrowed the search back to the Bear Camp area in Josephine County, according to reports.

Authorities said search teams, including a helicopter equipped with night vision capabilities, worked through the night Monday to locate James Kim, whose footprints are visible in some spots.

Trackers had been following his footprints, Anderson said Tuesday, but that got more difficult as they reached areas of dirt and rocks.

Click for map

"We have two Forest Service officers that are following the footprints the best they can. We will be out all night, and we will be working 24/7 until we bring him home," a sheriff's representative said. "The weather has been cold at night, but the family that was found today is in good shape. They did well for nine days."

At about 1:45 p.m. PST on Monday, rescuers were notified that a vehicle and a female waving an umbrella were spotted by a helicopter search crew near the Rogue River in the area of Bear Camp Viewpoint off Bear Camp Road, according to Oregon State Police. The location is a 3,500-foot mountain pass in the Siskiyou National Forest.

The helicopter that spotted the trio was reportedly a private aircraft contracted by the family.

"We are not a very wealthy county; we can't afford helicopters," Anderson said. "We do have access to National Guard helicopters in certain situations. That area that the Kims were found in was an area that we had our Sno-Cats in."

Authorities have not yet released details of how the family got lost.

Rescue efforts Monday shifted back to the Bear Camp area in Josephine County after information surfaced that a cellular tower received a signal from one of the family's phones. Authorities credit an employee of Oregon cell provider Edge Wireless with creating computer models to triangulate the phone's location.

Messages of support
CNET readers, who have posted hundreds of messages of support and concern on the site's boards in the last few days, were quick to express their relief.

"Now that Kati and the kids have been found, it won't be long (before) James will be found," one reader wrote. "This is incredible news for the Kim family."

Messages of encouragement were also pouring in to a Web site set up by family and friends.

The Kim family 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 the San Francisco Police Department's missing persons' report.

The family was expected to return to San Francisco on Monday, November 27. When both James and Kati failed to show up for appointments on Tuesday, 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.

In a search-and-rescue mission spanning multiple counties, state and federal personnel began searching highways and remote area roads by land and air for the family's silver Saab station wagon. Some of those roads are difficult to travel, described by authorities as narrow and curvy, with steep bordering embankments. Sno-Cats have been assisting with the search in sections covered with up to 6 inches of frozen snow.

Cautious optimism
Samantha Martin-Evans is a neighbor and close friend of Kati Kim. She has daughters close in age to Penelope and Sabine.

"I can't put it into words how I feel right now," Martin-Evans said after receiving the news of the rescue Monday. "I didn't want to give up hope, but after nine days, hope was starting to ebb last night. But now...just thinking of her waving on the side of the road is quintessential Kati: 'Here I am, come get me,' is so like her."

She remained optimistic about James as well. "To know that two days ago, he was well enough to set out, and now they can narrow the search...I can't describe the feeling. It's a miracle."

At CNET, co-workers let out shouts of jubilation at hearing the news of Kati, Penelope and Sabine, then focused their attention on finding James.

James, Kati and Sabine
James, Kati and Sabine Kim

"We're thrilled that Kati has been found and cautiously optimistic about the condition of the girls," said Lindsey Turrentine, James Kim's supervisor and an executive editor at CNET. "And we're glad the search can now focus on James."

Kim is a senior editor covering digital audio. He also co-hosts a weekly video podcast for the Crave gadget blog. He has 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.

He and his wife own two stores in San Francisco--Doe, a clothing store in the city's Lower Haight area, and the Church Street Apothecary in the Noe Valley neighborhood, where they live.

Niki Magtoto, an employee at the Church Street Apothecary, was overwhelmed by the news. "We are very relieved, but we're all still trembling at this point," Magtoto said. "Everybody from the neighborhood came over to the shop to celebrate the news."

At that moment in the conversation with a reporter, Magtoto's father, a UPS employee who delivers packages to the Kims' business, shouted into his daughter's phone: "Let's go, James!"

CNET News.com's Jennifer Guevin and Michelle Meyers contributed to this report.

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