James Kim honored for fatal bid to save family

February 18, 2007 12:00 am

SAN FRANCISCO - 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.

"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.

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.

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

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.

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.