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Feinstein seeks probe in stranded man's death

1/8/2007

PORTLAND, Ore. — U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Friday
called on the Interior Department to investigate the circumstances
that led to the death of a San Francisco man stranded with his
family in the Oregon mountains.

Feinstein, D-Calif., said an unlocked gate on a logging road
that the Kim family drove down before getting lost and stuck in the
snow appeared to contribute to James Kim's death.

She said she was disturbed to learn that personnel at the
department's Bureau of Land Management had not followed
instructions to lock the gate by Nov. 1, less than a month before
the Kims drove past the open gate.

Feinstein asked the agency to determine if bureau protocols were
followed and whether new ones are needed.

Michael Campbell of the BLM's public affairs office in Portland
said the agency is committed to investigating the questions
Feinstein raised as well as other questions about the road and the
gate.

Campbell said the results would be shared with Feinstein and the
public, and could be ready by the end of the month.

The Kim family was returning to San Francisco after a
Thanksgiving trip to Seattle when it missed a turnoff from
Interstate 5 to the coast and decided to take Bear Camp Road.

The road, a one-lane strip of pavement, is often used in summer
by Rogue River rafters and in winter by hunters, cross-country
skiers and families cutting Christmas trees. It is not plowed in
the winter.

The family drove onto the logging road, getting stuck more than
20 miles later. They stayed with the car for a week, consuming baby
food, jelly and bottled water, and burning tires and wood to keep
warm and to alert rescuers.

James Kim, 35, had struck out on foot to find help on Dec. 2,
two days before his wife and daughters were rescued by helicopter.
He was found dead of hypothermia after he had walked 16 miles on
Dec. 6.

The bureau had originally said the gate should have been locked
since Nov. 1, but that someone broke the lock and left the gate
open. Then the agency said there was no evidence of vandalism or
that it was locked.