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 Smiths 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 Departments 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 planes 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.