3 bodies recovered from plane wreckage in Idaho mountains

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by Karen Zatkulak

KREM.com

Posted on November 9, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 10:20 AM

DONNELLY – Just after noon Friday, search crews found the wreckage of the plane they'd been searching for since Wednesday.

Lt. Dan Smith with the Valley County Sheriff's Office says they have confirmed three people on board are dead. The pilot was Dan Wilson from McCall, and the passengers were Mike Wolf and Steve Hall, both from Washington.

Wolf is 51 years old from Woodland, Washington. Hall is around the same age and is from Ariel, Washington.

Smith tells KTVB the bodies were found in the wreckage on a steep section on the side of a mountain.

Sgt. Jason Speer with the Valley County Sheriff's Office said the men were in Idaho for a hunting trip. Speer told KTVB that they contracted the plane through McCall Aviation. They were heading to a hunting camp on the Middle Fork River.

Speer said the terrain was extremely difficult to get to, about 12 miles east of Donnelly near the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness.

The search was stopped on Thursday because of severe weather, but on Friday, two helicopters with the Idaho Army National Guard were sent to the area, and the wreckage was spotted.

"They were able to lower down a medic into the area and discovered the plane wreckage and discovered the three people who were aboard the aircraft that was reported missing, they were deceased," said Speer.

Valley County deputies and McCall firefighters were flown to the crash site to recover the bodies.

Smith says family members traveled from Washington after learning that the plane was missing on Wednesday. Speer says family members of both passengers participated in the search and rescue.

"There was an outpouring of support from the family and they wanted to be involved and lend any resources they could to help in the search," said Speer.

The plane was found in rugged, mountainous terrain at an elevation of 7,000 to 8,000 feet, according to officials with the Idaho Transportation Department's Aeronautics Division.

The single-engine Cessna 206 was reported missing at 10:23 a.m.  The aircraft is registered to Wilderness Aviation of McCall.

The Idaho Army National Guard dispatched the two helicopters Friday morning to an area east of Donnelly where the emergency locator transmitter signal was detected. 

The search and rescue team of more than 20 people set out on horseback and foot early this morning from a base camp to search for the missing plane. The ground is covered by about two feet of snow.

The FAA and NTSB will now be investigating the crash.

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