Josephine County Sheriff's office Sgt. Joel Heller speaks with members of a search and rescue team headed down Bear Camp Road in the Siskyou National Forest near Galice, Ore., Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2006, near where the Kim family became stranded in snow. Kati Kim and her two children were found in good health Monday by a helicopter, but James Kim, who tried to hike out, is still missing as of Tuesday morning.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
It was just a few days to most anyone else but to Kati Kim, the week after Thanksgiving 2006 was a living Hell.
Here's a refresher: Kati, her husband, James, and their two young daughters were driving back to their San Francisco Bay Area home from Seattle after the long holiday weekend when they took a wrong turn and ended up snowbound in Southern Oregon for days.
After their car ran out of gas, they burned the tires to stay warm. James, a tech journalist who worked with TechTV and CNET, eventually left to look for help, wearing only tennis shoes, a jacket and light clothing. His family never saw him alive again.
Search and rescue teams finally found Kati Kim walking with the girls along a remote road and airlifted them to safety. James Kim's body was discovered by a creek near the family's car. He had covered about 15 miles before he froze to death.
Fast forward three years.
Over this past weekend, Kati Kim and her two daughters returned to the remote Oregon backcountry where her life took a tragic turn. She brought along Kate Kotler, a writer who had been helping her with a book titled "Nowhere Warm" as they renewed acquaintance with searchers and attended last weekend's Josephine County Search and Rescue Christmas party.
"Though for me it was an extremely exhausting and somewhat emotional trip, it really was worth it to see first hand, I now can write with much more accuracy and clarity about the Kims’ surroundings while they were lost." Kotler writes in her blog. "And, it gives context to the information I’m receiving about the rescue efforts."
Search and rescue coordinator Sara Rubrecht says it was very satisfying for searchers to see the young daughters healthy and happy.
Everyone involved in the case received some negative press during and after the incident. Police and rescue teams were criticized for not responding fast enough and James and Kati Kim were even targeted by some who suggested they were drunk when they ended up on the unmarked road.
Kotler addresses those critics and praises the teams that helped bring Kati and the girls to safety.
"There should be no fingers pointed, no blame assigned." Kotler writes. "It was a horrible accident."
Kotler puts it plainly, and in bold print: "These people are nothing short of heroes."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.