The James and Kati Kim Ordeal: comments on the 20/20 story

This blog has previously written extensively on the Kim tragedy. The new account on 20/20 narrated by Kati Kim provides some new information, but omits important details and seems to change other parts of the story.

1. The lodge at Gold Beach advised them not to try the trip because of the distance, the hour, and the fact that the lodge was hard to find. According to Kati, James insisted. Then they miss the turn by 16 miles. They still persist in their objective. We still do not know if the Kims had consumed alcohol before leaving Portland.

2. The previously reported stop at a convenience store in Merlin was not mentioned. Did this happen or not? apparently they did not get gas. Did James ask for directions there or anywhere? Kati must know the answer.

3. The story of their turn off Bear Camp Road onto the logging road is glossed over. Earlier accounts said they passed the turn, encountered rocks in the road, stopped, backed up, and turned onto the logging road. The 20/20 account makes it seem as though this sequence of events happened much later (long after they simply blindly turned onto the logging road), at the place where they stopped their vehicle. The original story suggests very poor judgment, the latter implies a recurring inattention to the road in a situation where they both knew it was possible to get lost.

4. The failure of the Josephine County SAR to investigate the early report of tracks on the logging road is glossed over to the point of misrepresentation; co-ordinator Ruprecht doesn’t appear in the 20/20 piece until James leaves the family, when she is reportedly told (erroneously) that she can stop searching. Further, the failure to mobilize “ground troops”, after the cell tower was identified, seems to have been a major shortcoming, as pointed out by the pilot who found Kati.
Rupeecht’s degree of responsibility for the death of James Kim is not addressed.
5. The 20 20 report makes it seem as though James Kims and later Kati left the car and wandered through the forest. This is not true; they walked along the road (James later wandered off the road). The Kims and their vehicle were not lost in a roadless wilderness. They were on a road.
6. The report that James was going to run a mile up the road confirms his deteriorated state of mind and his impending hypothermia. No mention was made of whether he carried matches, which were shown in an earlier segment. There can no longer be any real doubt that his decision to leave the road was irrational and related to his hypothermia and other stresses.

6. A minor point: Much was made of dehydration on the 20 20 report. They had fire and snow. They were starving, sleep deprived, frightened and hypothermic, but they should have had enough water.

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