Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Colton Harris-Moore has been in custody since July 11, 2010, when Bahamian police captured him after shooting out the engines on his getaway boat during a nighttime chase. In those 69 months, Colton has seen his mother, Pam Kohler, only twice, once in a courtroom and once for a short prison visit.

It’s no secret that mother and son have had an often turbulent relationship. The dingy trailer they shared on Camano Island was the center of many wild storms while Colton was growing up. But both Pam and Colton have told me that there were also good times at their little spot amid the tall cedar and fir trees. They especially bonded over their shared love of animals and the outdoors. They raised chickens and pigs, and always had a dog for Colton to buddy around with. Pam cooked out for them on what she calls her “barbeque’r” every chance she got and took Colton camping as often as possible, teaching him the skills he’d need to survive on his own in the woods.

Despite their troubles and Pam’s personal struggles, Colton has always said he still loves his mom. His plans for as soon as he got out of prison included starting work so he could pay to level that old trailer and build Pam a little log cabin in its place.

Pam’s health hasn’t been great for a long time, and Colton became increasingly concerned about some breathing issues she had late last year. Knowing his mom isn’t the most cooperative of patients, Colton begged Pam to see a doctor, and finally resorted to bribing her with ice cream deliveries if she'd agree to the tests needed to get a diagnosis.

It wasn’t good. Colton’s mom has stage IV lung cancer—NSCLC for those who know about these things.

Those who’ve been reading Colton’s blog (Tidalsocata) know that he and I have been in frequent contact for the last 18 months. (I’ll write more about that in a later post) I’ve been very impressed by how Colton took charge of Pam’s care: arranging her transportation and new housing, and dealing with all the doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies as he sought the best treatments and therapies. He’s doing all of this while still holed up in Stafford Creek Correctional Center and limited to the exasperating prison phone and email systems. He has zero access to the internet and relies on friends to do any research he needs.

Colton’s prison term is over at the beginning of next year, but he’s eligible for a work-release program at the end of this July. On work-release, he’d overnight in a halfway house but be allowed to leave each day to go to work (he’s received multiple job offers). Colton says the best part of early release would be that he’d be better able to take care of his mom. Unfortunately, though, it looks like July will be too late.

Recently, the docs told Colton to give up, that Pam’s case is terminal. She missed her shot at a clinical trial, and now they say she and Colton should just get ready for her to pass within a couple of months.

So for those of you who know his story, what would you expect Colton to do next? Certainly not give up, even when it comes to death.

Colton is now raising money to get Pam treated at Alcor Life Extension Foundation ( And this is where truth meets science fiction, as Alcor specializes in cryonics: the process of vitrifying people at low temperature as soon as they die in the hopes that they can be reanimated sometime in the future.

Yes, insert Walt Disney frozen head joke here. By coincidence, though, I’ve been researching cryonics for a project I’m working on, and while definitely on the exploratory edge of medical science it’s nonetheless very intriguing. If you have faith in the continual leaps in technology we’ve seen in the last 30 years, and see how fast nanotech is advancing… then why not?

I can imagine 100 years from now an army of nanobots marching through my long-frozen skull repairing all the damage and stringing the synapses back up while my fresh new 20-year-old cloned body waits soaking in a saline bath on the other side of the lab. Or maybe it’ll take 200 years… how long won’t matter to those frozen inside the metal tubes.

So beyond the ethical questions of cryonics, beyond even the debate over its eventual viability, lies the reality of a son doing everything he can to help his mother in the hopes that at some point in the future they can revive their relationship.

Colton is raising money at this GoFundMe site: Save PamK


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