December 6, 2006

RIP James Kim, Very Much A Hero Type

After the great news that his wife and two daughters were found alive and safe after several days, the discovery of James Kim's death is a very sad end to the story of a family who went missing on a very typical-sounding road trip. [Of course, it's only the end of the story from a news/search perspective. For the Kims and their family and friends, it's also/more importantly the beginning of a very difficult phase of their lives.]

From the reports I've read--and I've missed most of them because of travel--Kim sounds like a smart, conscientious, and resourceful dad who was determined to help save his family. His wife Kati demonstrated the same attributes herself.

If the Kim's tragedy resonates strongly with people beyond those who knew them, it's not just because we can imagine this kind of accident happening to us. It's because we imagine we'd want to do exactly the same thing in Kim's situation. The notion of just sitting and waiting to be rescued, however wise it appears in retrospect--or at least in this specific situation--just doesn't sit well with most guys, who want to do something to help their families. It's certainly what crosses my mind.

One other practical thing that crosses my mind, is being prepared, not for a tragedy, necessarily, but for a plausible range of unforeseen situations. Mormons get a lot of press for food storage, the church's recommendation that you keep a one-year supply of food, money, everything, on hand to support your family if necessary. What doesn't get as much attention is the idea to keep a 72-hour kit on hand: a portable bag of food, water, formula, diapers, socks, money, copies of important papers, etc. in case of whatever.

It's an idea a lot of people in New York embraced after September 11th and that ridiculous duct tape/anthrax scare. Anyway, we have kits like that in our houses, and in the trunk. When we get back to the US, you can bet that I'll be checking them to see if they're up-to-date. [My guess is, we're off by at least two diaper sizes.]

James Kim found deceased [cnet, sounds like a headline by a friend who didn't want to write "dead"]
LDS Church site: preparing for home emergencies and natural disasters []


I was wondering when you would post about this sad occurence. It certainly hit home for us, especially since we decided at the last minute not to drive to West Virginia for Thanksgiving this year. My husband is pretty outdoorsy but this is definitely going to spark an era of new preparedness for our car. Space blankets, water, some kind of food. We already had a hatchet and matches.

I didn't know the Kims but have checked out their store site ( on several occasions and it seems like they were very much in line with DT's cool modern family ethic. I hope they know how many people wish them well.

You are right about the Kim story hitting home. The family is all about the same age as mine, and having moved from Seattle to L.A., we've been back and forth over the Grant's Pass area plenty of times.

One thing I haven't noticed getting a lot of pub, is that Mrs. Kim, having continued breastfeeding the youngest child well into 7 months, which a lot of women have stopped by then, saved the life of the two children by nursing both.

I think that is a powerful act and I wish them well in this sad time.

I agree that the reason this resonates with so many of us is that it's so easy to put ourselves in their place... a family holiday roadtrip, one missed freeway exit, a choice to take an alternate route just so you don't have to turn back and lose time getting to your destination... how many of us have made similar choices, similar mistakes? The Kims demonstrated resourcefulness and tenacity in their efforts to survive and care for their daughters, and I have deep sense of mourning for this family and their loss. I find their experience inspiring and tragic. They have been in my heart since they were first reported missing on the local Portland news a week ago.

I've also been reminded that I have a responsibility to my kids to keep my home and car reasonably prepared for emergencies. One thing I was reading about was Personal Locator Beacons, which would've been a great help in the Kims' situation. I'm appalled that they're currently priced out of the range of most of the people who could really benefit from having one on hand. Of course, as a tech-savvy generation, we also have to be aware that 4WD/AWD vehicles, GPS, cellphones and even PLBs are just imperfect *tools* that we shouldn't become overly reliant upon. And now I'm rambling so I'll leave it at that.

Thank you, Greg, for your moving post.

Dude, do you have to teach a moral lesson with every obituary? First Steve Irwin and now this. No one should expect to die on a cross state road trip. Tell people he should have had two days supplies is just obnoxious and know it all. Have more respect next time.

[dude, wtf. that wasn't even the point at all. why are you trying to be a dick over an honest attempt to pay respect to someone and to try and find something productive to add? As I tried to make clear, I had no connection to the Kims, and being out of the media loop, I had no truck with the media story/search saga. I only said anything because readers, including several who DO know the Kims, asked what I thought, and was I planning to write anything about this dad. -ed.]

That's the bit: Adding something "productive". I didn't find it productive, but rather more "holier than thou". Consider it.

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