Neighbors, co-workers crushed

Hope turned to grief Wednesday afternoon as news spread that James Kim had been found dead in the snow.

A Web site established for the Kim family by a friend posted that Kim had been found at 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, noting that “we do not have word on his condition.” By 1:15 p.m., a second post announced that Kim was dead.

Kim’s wife, Kati, had been optimistic that morning, predicting her husband would be found, said Charlie Wright, a friend who works at Church Street Apothecary, one of two local businesses owned by the family.

She said people came into the store to tell Wright that Kim had been found alive. When she learned the truth, she said she was “devastated.”

The store closed early, as did the Kims’ other store, a boutique on Haight Street called Doe. Flowers and messages of comfort were left outside Doe’s shuttered doors.

Haight resident Barbara Saint, walking home from the store, stopped by the impromptu memorial, took a deep breath and then sat herself on the stoop to pray.

“It’s so very sad,” said Saint, who said she didn’t know the family, but appreciated the fact that the Kims had brought a “nice store” to the neighborhood.

At the South of Market office of CNET, where James Kim was a techology editor, work stopped on Wednesday as hundreds of employees, watching a live news broadcast, had their worst fears confirmed.

“We held out hope until the very end,” said CNET Chief Executive Officer Neil Ashe, who called the days since Kim and his family were reported missing “a heart-wrenching experience for everyone.”

Ashe commended the father and husband for being “nothing short of heroic” in attempting to bring his family to safety.

Outside CNET, employees, who were allowed to leave early, exited the building quietly, some alone, some in groups holding one another, many with tears still in their eyes. The company canceled its holiday party, scheduled for Wednesday evening.

“James was a wonderful family man, who was also a good friend and a great employee,” company spokeswoman Sarah Cain said. “It’s rough. We really thought there was going to be a good outcome.’’

beslinger@examiner.com

Staff writer Adam Martin contributed to this report.

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