Online support for Kim family grows

Online support for Kim family grows »Play Video

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The hunt for James Kim kept thousands of people nationwide anxiously following each wrenching development. Now that it has ended in tragedy, thousands are turning online to share their sadness, sympathy and frustration.

CNet Networks Inc., Kim's employer, has received more than 5,000 messages at its Web site in response to its updates.

Jamesandkati.com, a site set up by family friend Scott Nelson Windels, has received more than 6,000 e-mails to be passed on to the family and received several hundred thousand page views since it was established on Friday.

And traffic to several major news Web sites went skyrocketing, based almost solely on the Kim story, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Experts in death and mourning say such a response is a normal human reaction to a story like Kim's.

"Connecting with a person who is revealing, knowingly or (unknowingly), their most intimate tragic struggle connects at a human level for all of us," said Dr. Susan Tolle, director of the Center for Ethics in Health Care at Oregon Health & Science University.

"We come to know and love this person, who we get to know through the media as a human being, and we will do almost anything to save them," Tolle said. "It pulls at this core of our humanness."

The anguish is greater if people feel the sense that the death could have been prevented and that a person died in an act of heroism, she said

"This man basically made the decision as the leader of this family that he could do nothing, and they might freeze to death or die out there, or he could leave this world trying," said Marc Wilson on a posting at a Web site for parents in the San Francisco neighborhood of Glen Park. "He inevitably made the wrong choice, but if I were in his shoes I can't say I wouldn't have done the same thing."

Mourners, ranging from those who knew him to those who knew only his story, were moved by the desire to see Kim alive and well. Many echoed the sentiment of search and rescue officials, who called Kim's efforts to get help for his family "superhuman" and the failure to find him alive "crushing."

"It's a little bit overwhelming," Windels said. "There's a lot of people who know James from CNet and TechTV. But there are also a lot of parents with a lot of affinity to the story, people who travel with their kids who realized this could happen to them."

After taking a wrong turn during a family vacation, the family got stuck on a remote side road. The family was stranded for a week in their car and survived by burning tires and magazines for warmth. The mother nursed the children, ages 4 and 7 months. Then Kim set out on foot to get help.

The mother and daughters were rescued Monday. But it wasn't until Wednesday that authorities found Kim. Police say he'd hiked more than 10 miles in some of the Pacific Northwest's toughest terrain before succumbing to hypothermia.

"When I turned on the news and heard about what happened ... my heart dropped," read one message on CNet.com.

Many fans expressed their grief for the loss and appreciation of his work.

"James Kim was one of the reasons I had the CNET page as my home page," said another message on CNet.com. "What he did for his family simply gives out the quality of the man. He will certainly be missed but I do hope that he will never be forgotten."

Kim, 35, worked for CNet Networks Inc. writing reviews about digital music and audio devices for the technology themed Web site and a CNet blog about electronics. He also appeared on the company's video segments and on television.

But most mourners did not know him. They simply wrote about becoming absorbed in the heartbreaking experience and extending their sympathy to the family.

"I had no idea who the Kim family was, but I watched and waited and was thrilled when Kati and the children were found," said a posting on kgw.com, a Portland television station's site. "To have James die while trying to get help for his family was not the outcome we were waiting for. Hopefully the thoughts and prayers of many people will help the family through this very sad time. "

(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)