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Official: Road James Kim traveled not left open by vandals

U.S. Bureau of Land Management now says bureau workers feared that locking the gate would have trapped hunters, others.

Contrary to earlier reports, vandals were not responsible for unlocking a gate that let CNET editor James Kim drive onto a remote Southern Oregon logging road where he eventually got lost, according to government officials.

Instead, employees from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management organization were responsible for leaving the gate open, Michael Campbell, a spokesman for the bureau, said Friday. Days after Kim's body was recovered on December 6, representatives of the bureau said Bear Camp Road was left open as a result of the act of an unknown vandal.

Kim was a senior editor for CNET Networks. During a holiday road trip to the Pacific Northwest, he and his family became stranded in a remote wilderness area during a snowstorm.

Kim died of hypothermia after setting out from the family car on foot to find help. His wife, Kati, and two young daughters were rescued in good condition two days before his body was found.

Bureau officials say they typically keep the gate to Bear Camp Road locked during the winter to prevent people from becoming trapped in the snow.

On November 1, the bureau dispatched employees to lock the gate, but they decided to leave it open, according to Campbell.

"When staff got out there, they were not able to confirm that hunters or other people would have been trapped behind the gate," Campbell said. "In lieu of locking the gate, they decided to leave it open."

Campbell said he doesn't know whether the gate was locked during the winter of 2005, but that he's sure it has been locked in the past.

The bureau has launched an internal review into policies and procedures, Campbell said, noting that the gate is currently locked.