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Introduction

Timeline

The Kims and Their Doomed Trip

The SAR Effort: Bungled or Undermined?

Who Was Responsible?

Lessons to Learn

Afterthoughts: Summer 2007

Media and Official Reports Archive


Summary


James and Kati Kim’s negligence was primarily responsible for the tragedy that unfolded between Nov. 25 and Dec. 6, 2006. The failure of two officials, Sara Rubrecht and Jason Stanton, to order the search of the road where the Kims were stranded, contributed to Mr. Kim’s death.

Various other factors cited by the media and others – inadequate signs and maps, credit card privacy rules, cellular location data – were tangential or irrelevant.

Disorganized management of the search for the Kim family highlighted flaws in the search and rescue process that should be addressed, but was a minor factor in the events of Nov. 25-Dec. 6.

Significant gaps and contradictions remain in Mrs. Kim’s accounting of events, particularly on Nov. 25. I do not believe she was completely forthcoming in her statements to authorities.

Public education about the dangers of overreliance on technology, and on the need to plan trips carefully and respect the hazardous nature of wilderness travel, is the best means of preventing similar tragedies.

I reject pleas to exempt any participants from scrutiny, or to “let bygones be bygones.” Heavy media coverage made the Kim tragedy a public event, inspiring widespread attention and ongoing government involvement. All factors, actions and participants must be thoroughly analyzed to insure that any responses to the events of Nov. 25-Dec. 6 are appropriate.


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