Tribute Remembers Father Lost Trying To Save Family In Wilderness

Saturday, February 17th 2007, 10:10 pm
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The wife of a man who died after he set out on foot in the Oregon wilderness to find help for his snowbound family thanked hundreds Saturday who attended a memorial service in his honor.

Kati Kim, who was rescued by helicopter along with her two young daughters after more than a week, expressed gratitude to those at Golden Gate Park for their support after James Kim's death.

``Without a father, it really truly does take a community to raise children,'' Kim said, her voice breaking as she stood before a colorful curtain of origami cranes folded by friends and family.

Kim, 30, also thanked the search and rescue crews who combed the mountains of Oregon's Rogue River Canyon for the San Francisco family after they became lost.

The Kims were the focus of an intense manhunt and international media attention when they failed to arrive home in San Francisco after Thanksgiving. James Kim, 35, died of hypothermia in a mountain creek after walking more than 16 miles in search of help.

Spencer Kim, James Kim's father, criticized the search and rescue effort in a January opinion piece in The Washington Post. He wrote that the rescue operation was ``plagued by confusion, communication breakdowns and failures of leadership.''

But at the Saturday tribute, James Kim's sister Eva Kim offered gratitude to the agencies who aided the search.

``Our family truly thanks you for all of your efforts and contributions,'' she said.

Aside from his wife and sister, no other members of James Kim's family attended the event, according to organizers. The family has mostly avoided attention during and after the ordeal, even as what a family friend described as more than 10,000 e-mails of support and sympathy have flooded in from around the world.

Several people who attended Saturday's celebration said they were touched by the family's story even though they did not know the Kims personally.

Nathalie-Andree Muzac Braden, 35, of San Francisco, came to the tribute with her husband and 13-month-old son. Braden said the Kim family's struggle prompted a conversation between herself and her husband about what they would have done in a similar situation. And she said their inspirational example brought her own family closer together.

``I'm a true believer in love,'' she said. ``And it seemed like the Kim family had a lot of love.''