Cold killed father seeking help for lost family, autopsy shows


December 08, 2006|By McClatchy-Tribune

MERLIN, Ore. -- An autopsy performed yesterday morning determined that James Kim died of exposure and hypothermia and had no serious physical injuries.

The time of death could not be determined, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings of the Oregon State Police. However, one of the SWAT team members on the scene told the San Jose Mercury News that it appeared from the condition of the body that Kim had not been dead long - perhaps hours, no more than a day.

Deputy Grant Forman, of Jackson County's SWAT team, who rappelled from a helicopter to help recover the body Wednesday afternoon, said it looked as if Kim fell on slippery, mossy rocks in the 20-foot-wide creek where his body was found. "I don't think he gave up until he died," Forman said.

Kim had walked five miles along a road and five miles along the creek through a steep canyon. His body was spotted five days after he left his wife and children in their snowbound car to find help.

He was found face-up in water no more than 3 feet deep. Even though he had left a trail of clothing for rescuers to follow, Kim was still wearing several layers of clothing, including jacket, sweater, jeans and tennis shoes.

The Kims, with their daughters, 7 months and 4, became lost Nov. 25 on a mountain road on their way home to San Francisco after spending Thanksgiving in Seattle.

Kati Kim and the girls were found alive in their station wagon Monday.

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