Here are the questions I’m running into, both in my mind and on other blogs . . .
- Would a GPS have saved James Kim’s life?
- Is the map they got from Google to blame?
- Did the Kim’s do things wrong?
- Should backroads like this be closed in bad weather?
- What if this was my family? What would I do?
- Was it preventable?
- Can we call James Kim a hero?
It’s a story that has been tracked by millions worldwide. A tragedy. People around the world have been riveted to local and cable newstations, internet news sites and other sites, like CNet where James Kim was a Senior Editor, anxiously awaiting news of his rescue. After his wife, Kati and their two children, 4 year old Penelope and 7 month old Sabine, were found safe Monday afternoon, the hope of the world renewed.
But the world was turned on it’s ear yesterday afternoon, when just after noon Pacific time, Kim’s lifeless body was discovered in the Big Windy Creek drainage. According to police reports, he had travelled about 10 miles from the family’s car where Kati and the children sat waiting, worried and anxious. From what authorities can tell, Kim was likely trying to get to the town of Galice, a few more miles down the Rogue River from where he was found.
Like many others, I’ve been glued to various stations and websites awaiting any new developments since day one. And I’m not really sure what has drawn me into this story so deeply. Perhaps it’s because I’m a parent of 4 children myself. Maybe it’s because I’ve also lost people close to me in horrible situations. Or because I’m just a sap. Whatever the reason, this story has pulled my heartstrings and I can’t get it out of my head.
The only thing left now are the questions. Let’s look at them one by one.
Would a GPS have saved James Kim’s life?
I don’t think so. The problem isn’t that he got lost as a result of a bad map or wrong directions – he missed a turn from one highway to another and made the choice – based on a map – to take a different road. That road was Bear Camp Road, a seldom used backroad that winds through forest service areas. This particular area is very remote and doesn’t get much travel during the bad winter months though it is more passible during summer months. A GPS system may have shown this a viable alternate route – just as the physical map they were using did.
Is the map they got from Google to blame?
Again, I don’t think so. The job of a map is not necessarily to show the reader what roads are viable, but what roads exist. Maps are supposed to give an indicator on how to get from one point to another. Many even have disclaimers about road conditions, construction and other sorts of obstructions that may or may not be occurring at any given time.
Did the Kim’s do things wrong?
Some may argue that James Kim put his family at risk, that the actions he and his wife took when they became lost, were stupid and risky. But I have to argue with that. I think they did everything they could to keep themselves and their children safe. Should they have just turned around when they became lost? I don’t think anyone can answer that. I certainly can’t answer that. Who’s to say if they had turned around that they would have made it back? It’s possible they could have become even more lost than they already were or slid off the road and become not only stuck, but had an accident that hurt – or killed – all of them.
No, I think they did what any survival training would tell you to do – stay put. When you’re lost and in doubt, don’t move. It’s what you tell your children when they get lost in the store. Stay where you are and mommy will come find you.
Should backroads like this be closed in bad weather?
Absolutely! Without a doubt, roads like this should be closed during winter months when they become significantly dangerous and impossible to navigate. There should be barricades closing them to everyone except rangers and other authorities or locals (although, I don’t think anyone lives down these particular roads).
Here in Washington, we have many such roads and a lot of them are closed from late fall to early spring. Some are open to only rangers and authorities, some also allow locals (if there are homes there) although many that do allow some people through, require that those people are in four wheel drive vehicles or have tire chains.
What if this was my family? What would I do?
There is no definitive answer to this. Sure, I can speculate what I might do but you know, you never really know exactly what you would do until you face that particular situation yourself. This could happen to anyone – even the most savvy outdoorsman (or woman!) on the planet.
I know I am prepared as much as I can be. I have flares, extra water, blankets, change of clothing, jumper cables, flash lights, and various other “survival gear” loaded in the back of my car. That stuff stays there 24/7/365.
Was it preventable?
The answer to this question depends on who you ask. But I’m not going to speculate. Maybe they could have done things differently – hindsight is 20/20 – as the saying goes. None of it will bring James back. None of it will change what did happen. None of it will heal the pain the family and friends of these wonderful, courageous people are experiencing now. Living in the past does nobody any good. Least of all, James and Kati Kim and their daughters.
We could wrack our brains for all eternity but there will never be an answer to this question.
Is James Kim a hero?
Yes! Without a doubt! He did everything he could – even giving up his own life – for his family. He kept a level head, he used every tool at his disposal and he saved his wife and children.
But James isn’t the only hero in this story. Kati is as much a hero as James. She breatfed both of her daughters and kept them alive. If that isn’t heroism, I don’t know what is!
And of course, there are all the rescuers and authorties who never tired in their search. All heroes.
I know there are more questions but I hope I’ve touched on those that are foremost on others minds. And I hope I’ve made some sense here.