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Tuesday, December 5, 2006 - Page updated at 05:52 PM

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Mom, 2 kids found in snow; dad went for help, still lost

Searchers scoured a narrow canyon in Oregon's snowy Coast Range today for a San Francisco man missing for more than a week, while his wife and children recovered in a hospital.

Searchers said it appeared that James Kim, 35, was within five miles of the car he'd left Saturday morning in search of help.

Kim had headed downhill and apparently emerged from snow, trackers said.

After following footprints, trackers "were following scuff marks" in dirt and rock, said Undersheriff Brian Anderson of Josephine County.

Anderson said Kim was wearing tennis shoes, jeans and a heavy coat. He was not wearing a hat.

"He did have two lighters with him," Anderson said. "They survived nine days out there. They're pretty resourceful."

The drainage, called Big Windy Creek, led to the Rogue River, and the search and rescue teams also brought out rafts Tuesday to check the river.

Rescuers on Monday found Kim's wife and two children who had been marooned for nine days in their car in a snowy area of southwest Oregon.

Kim, an Internet journalist, and his wife, Kati Kim, drove with their two young children from San Francisco to the Puget Sound area to share Thanksgiving with relatives but never made it back home.

On Monday afternoon, Kati Kim and her children were rescued as she waved a yellow umbrella to attract the attention of a search helicopter.

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Oregon authorities said the family burned tires to keep warm, and that Kati Kim, 30, Penelope, 4, and Sabine, 7 months, were in remarkable shape when found. They were airlifted to Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass, Ore.

As of Monday night, the fate of James Kim was unknown. He left his wife and children in their silver Saab station wagon on Saturday morning while he went for help.

"We will be out there all night, and we will work 24-7 until we find him," said Sheriff Mike Winters of Josephine County.

Oregon State Police Lt. Doug Ladd said there was "a very reasonable chance" that Kim is still alive. According to the family, he had some outdoor experience, Ladd said.

The dramatic Monday rescue resulted from an expanding private and public search that followed the family's disappearance. The Kims were last seen Nov. 25 at a Denny's restaurant near Roseburg, Ore., and were apparently seeking a scenic route to a lodge near Gold Beach on the southern coast when they became trapped in the snow.

While in the Puget Sound area, the family had stayed with an uncle and aunt, Clint and June Youn of Federal Way.

June Youn said she had cautioned the family about the stormy November weather before they left San Francisco.

"They said they were already aware of it, and still wanted to come here," and they loved to travel, Clint Youn said.

Josephine County officials said the family had only "minor provisions" with them in the car. Nursing supervisor Cynthia Russell said the mother had nursed both children while they were lost.

"They spoke of Dad trying berries in the area, but they were not sure if they were poisonous," she said.

James Kim, 35, is a digital-music writer and senior editor for CNET.com, an online news service based in the San Francisco area. He likes to stay in close touch with friends and family, and his cellphone may have provided a lifesaving link for Kati Kim and the couple's children.

Though the cellphone was not able to connect from the remote location, experts hired by the family were able to pin down a cellular tower that had picked up a signal from the phone. They then used a computer model to approximate the location of the cellphone, and that helped lead searchers to an area near Bear Camp Road, where Kati Kim and the children were found.

Picking up that signal was critical to the success of the search effort, said Josephine County undersheriff Brian Anderson.

CNET also sought to help, maintaining a kind of online blog of the search, and soliciting tips that might help locate the family.

"We're a media company so we wanted to use our resources any way we could to get the word out," said Sarah Cain, a spokesman for CNET Networks. "We thought the more people who are aware, the better it would be."

Seattle Times staff reporter Hal Bernton contributed to this report.

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