December 5, 2006 6:15 PM PST

Tough choices for stuck winter travelers

For people stranded in Oregon's treacherous Klamath Mountains in wintry conditions, there are no easy answers.

CNET senior editor James Kim and his family are only the latest to face matters of survival in the rugged Siskiyou National Forest in southwestern Oregon. Others include an Ashland, Ore., family reunited earlier this year after being missing for several weeks and a man who starved to death waiting to be rescued for nine weeks more than a decade ago.

Kim waited with his wife and two young children in their car for a week before he set out on Saturday to search for help. His wife, Kati, and their two children, 4-year-old Penelope and 7-month-old Sabine, were spotted by a helicopter and rescued on Monday. Searchers continued looking for him on Tuesday in the area of Bear Camp Road west of Grants Pass.

The San Francisco family had been headed to Gold Beach on the coast after driving south on Interstate 5 from Portland. The road they were on is a hilly U.S. Forest Service road that is not plowed and is often closed during winter.

Pete Stivers, of Ashland, and his family were driving in that same area, full of remote logging roads, when their motor home got stuck on March 4, 2006. They had been headed to the coast and decided to take the scenic route, according to a report in the Mail Tribune of southern Oregon.

Stivers, his wife, their 8- and 9-year-old children and his wife's parents spent the next 16 days surviving on old Y2K rations and watching the search efforts on a black-and-white television in the mobile home. When the rescue was called off, the Stivers headed out on foot to search for help. The following day, the couple was found by a Bureau of Land Management employee during a routine timber inspection about 15 miles west of Glendale, Ore., and reunited with the rest of the family later that day.

The story of DeWitt Finley lacks the happy ending of the Stivers', but is remarkable enough to have been memorialized in a poem, in "Someone Else's Name."

The 56-year-old salesman from Montana got stuck driving in the same snowy southwestern Oregon area on November 14, 1994. He sat in the cab of his pickup for nine weeks, checking off each day on a calendar and writing letters to his family and his boss. The last date marked on the calendar was January 19, 1995. Some teenagers whose vehicle got stuck discovered his body May 20, nearly four months to the day after he is believed to have died of starvation.

Finley was around the corner from clear pavement that would have led him about 16 miles down the mountain to safety, the Associated Press reported.

"But there was no sign he had ever left his truck," the article said.

"I have no control over my life its all in His hands," Finley wrote.

See more CNET content tagged:
Oregon, family, wife, children, road

 

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