Friday, December 08, 2006

In My Opinion

The following article was submitted to the Commentary page in The Oregonian. I doubt they will publish it as it is an unpopular opinion.

The saga of the Kim family from San Francisco who were stranded in the Siskiyou Mountains in Oregon makes me angry. In my opinion, this is a tragedy that didn’t have to happen. The death of the father is a sad ending to the story. The father is being called a “hero” for trying to save his family, and the wife and children are praised for surviving. However, from a wilderness survival standpoint, a series of poor decisions led to an event that holds a lesson for everyone. Mother Nature is not gentle, and the wilderness in winter is not a place for unprepared city dwellers. What could the Kim family have done differently?

They could have changed their plans and stayed comfortably in a motel in a populated town on the Interstate. They could have followed the directions they had received earlier and heeded the warnings given them. After they were on the mountain road, they could have realized they were in uninhabited wilderness and turned back sooner.

Once lost and stuck, they could have made a survival plan while they were competent to think clearly. They could have begun immediately to signal for help. They could have used their fire starting ability immediately to set signal fires.

The father could have stayed with the car instead of setting out on foot looking for help. He could have dressed more warmly. He could have fashioned a hat (critical for survival) out of a piece of clothing or a baby diaper. He could have marked his trail to be able to return to the car as he had promised to do. He could have stayed on the road instead of going down into a ravine where he would not be visible to searchers and where the temperature was colder. He could have eaten instead of abstaining and weakening his ability to help his family. He could have crawled into a sheltered space and stayed warm instead of exposing himself to the elements and thus to the fatal hypothermia.

He could have purchased a basic survival kit for his car. A good thing for any road trip even one on a major freeway. It is exactly when you think you don’t or won’t need them, that emergency items can save your life. He could have remembered searchers would be looking for his family. In their car. On a road.

During the same period the Kim family was lost, a man stranded on Bainbridge Island in Washington survived for two weeks. He attributed his survival to having had a sleeping bag and a hat, and staying with the car.

Kati Kim and the children were found alive in the car. James Kim was found dead from exposure and hypothermia. So pray for the soul of James Kim, but take a lesson from all this. Do not venture into unfamiliar territory in winter unless you are prepared. If you have an emergency, stay warm, stay dry, stay with the car.


Blogger ejramblin said...

Well stated. Agreed. A tragedy that could have been avoided. Head-shakingly sad and disturbing.
....Do let us know if your letter gets published. I hope it does.

4:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home