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Missing California Airplane Found Near McCall, Idaho

central mountains, airplane search
Idaho Department of Transportation

The Valley County, Idaho Sheriff's Department says a single-engine airplane that's been missing since December has been found near McCall. Lt. Dan Smith says it appears none of the five people aboard the Beech Bonanza aircraft survived.

On Dec. 1, 51-year-old California software executive Dale Smith departed from eastern Oregon with four family members en route to Butte, Mont. The Associated Press wrote in December that Smith reported engine trouble during his flight and asked for coordinates for the Yellow Pine air strip in Idaho's backcountry.

Searchers combed the region for the plane and its passengers, but were hampered by snow and unusually cold weather. The sheriff's office called off its search on December 12, but family members and volunteers continued.

Smith's wife, Janis Smith, posted Friday night on her Facebook page that the aircraft was found buried in snow. "The plane is in pieces and buried in snow, Smith wrote. "They have not yet found all the parts. However, we do know my family members on the plane died quickly and painlessly. They did not suffer."

Smith's passengers included his son, Daniel Smith and his wife Sheree Smith of Butte, Mont., as well as daughter Amber Smith with her fiancé Jonathon Norton, BYU-Idaho students. Amber Smith and Norton were reportedly engaged to be married January 4.

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