Search called off for missing plane, passengers

December 12, 2013 

The search for a missing plane and its five passengers was called off Thursday, 12 days after it went missing near Yellow Pine.


— Twelve days after a small aircraft disappeared from the radar somewhere over Valley County, rescue groups announced they are halting the search.

Sub-zero temperatures, poor visibility, and difficult terrain have dogged air and ground crews from the start.

The pilot of the small Beech Bonanza, Dale Smith, reported it was experiencing engine trouble Dec. 1 near Yellow Pine just before Salt Lake Tower lost communication with him. Also on board were Smith’s son Daniel Smith and his wife Sheree Smith, as well as daughter Amber Smith and her fiancé, Jonathan Norton.

The remote area was combed from above using helicopters and small planes, while ground teams hiked and snowmobiled through the snowy terrain.

It looked as if crews might catch a break Dec. 3, when they picked a faint signal from an emergency locator beacon, but authorities later said the signal may have been misleading. It did not lead them to the plane.

“We reluctantly suspended the search because of worsening conditions and concern for the safety of our search teams,” Mike Pape, administrator of the Idaho Transportation Department’s Division of Aeronautics, said in a press release.

Pape added that the search could still resume if they can find “specific, credible information” about the plane’s location. But for now, he said, continuing to hunt for the craft was too big of a risk.

“Our decision to suspend the formal search was not easy to make and came only after all of our other options had diminished,” he said. “Our hearts go out to family members and friends as they await word about their loved ones.”

Idaho Statesman is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service