Employees recognized for efforts on Kim search

Medford Edge Wireless techs used cell phone data to deploy rescuers

The efforts of two Medford Edge Wireless employees during the search for the Kim family last November will be recognized in a June award ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Eric Fuqua and Noah Pugsley will receive the 2007 VITA Wireless Samaritan Award for going "above and beyond" their duties to help search and rescue teams look for James Kim and his family, said Melissa Hochschild, an Edge Wireless spokeswoman.

The awards are presented by CTIA-The Wireless Foundation to people in the wireless field who use the technology during emergency situations.

Kim, a San Francisco online editor, his wife, Kati, and their two young daughters got lost on a snowy logging road west of Interstate 5 when they tried to drive the Bear Camp Road to the Oregon coast. James Kim died while trying to seek help for his wife and children, who were found by a searcher in a helicopter.

Pugsley and Fuqua decided to contact James Kim's family members in the early days of the search and asked for permission to analyze the lost family's cell phone records to try to narrow the search area for rescuers.

Until they stepped in, searchers were mired in conflicting and false reports concerning the Kims' whereabouts.

"We were told they had no idea where they could have been," Pugsley said. "They had reports saying they were anywhere from Portland to California."

Searchers said that Kati Kim and her daughters were found alive due in large part to Fuqua's and Pugsley's work.

"It feels good to be recognized," Pugsley said. "It was exciting and tense during the search. We thought it would be cool if they found the family based on our information."

Pugsley has been giving presentations to lawmakers showing how wireless companies and search teams can better work together in future rescue operations.

"It's nice for some good stuff to come out of (James Kim's death)," Pugsley said.

The Kim search prompted a statewide task force that has recommended setting clear guidelines in multi-jurisdictional searches, increased training for rescue personnel and new subpoena powers to give law enforcement officials access to phone records.

The subpoena issue is included in a bill now making its way through the Legislature.

Fuqua and Pugsley are two of eight national winners who have been invited to Washington D.C. for the June 11 Wireless Foundation Achievement Awards Dinner.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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