Pilot's brother describes finding plane wreckage


by Scott Evans


Posted on January 13, 2014 at 2:54 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 13 at 3:00 PM

BOISE – After searching for more than a month for a plane that went down in Idaho's back country wilderness, the brother of the pilot and a local man found the plane.

The family of the five people who lost their lives on that plane now has some closure.

On Friday afternoon, there was a moment, when, after long days and weeks of searching, Dellon Smith thought he saw his brother's wrecked plane.

"I just wanted to get there; I just wanted to be there," said Smith. "It was a very sacred spot. It's still a sacred spot for me."

But he froze and sent a volunteer to go and confirm that it was indeed the plane. That confirmation came.

"At that point, I just ran as fast as I could," said Smith.

For an Alaskan native, who is no stranger to difficult terrain and snowy weather, the waist deep snow was taxing.

But with the plane in sight, Smith and volunteer Arthur Stock, who have both been searching for weeks, had a burst of energy.

"I just wanted to be there because that's as close as I could get to any of my family at that point," said Smith.

Because of how much time passed - the plane went missing December 1st - Smith and his family were all but certain everyone on board had perished.

The wreckage confirmed their feeling.

"It was both painful but comforting as well to be in that spot for some reason," said Smith. "I can't even explain it."

While this closes the search, the work in the rural areas of Valley County, a few miles outside of Yellow Pine, is not yet over.

"This isn't going to be going to be finished until we can recover the bodies and recover the wreckage and really understand exactly what happened," said Smith.

Now Smith and his family will begin to heal, remembering their loved ones who died too soon. Those who died are, pilot Dale Smith, son Daniel and his wife Sheree, daughter Amber and her fiancé Jonathan Norton.

"It's just a team effort from the start and my brother and my family that was on that airplane, every single one of them, were just solid, solid individuals, just great, great people," said Smith.

Smith said it's hard to find adequate words to thank the volunteers who spent so much time searching Idaho's back country. He says none of them asked for anything, as they gave of their time to help complete strangers find closure. To all who helped in whatever way Smith says ‘thank you.’

Smith's mother will remain in Cascade until the bodies can be recovered.

Valley County Sheriff Patti Bolen says a meeting is planned for Monday to figure out how to remove the bodies and the wreckage.