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All five bodies recovered from central Idaho plane crash site

Published January 15, 2014 7:44 pm

Search • Helicopter was used to pull victims from rugged, snowy crash site.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The last of five bodies found in the wreckage of a December plane crash in remote central Idaho was recovered on Wednesday.

Alan Dayton, the Salt Lake City uncle of one of the victims of the crash about 100 miles northeast of Boise, said Valley County sheriff's deputies, search and rescue volunteers and family were able to retrieve four of the bodies Tuesday evening.

Dayton's nephew, Jonathan Norton, was among the victims recovered Tuesday. Norton's fiance, Amber Smith, was believed to be the victim who was recovered on Wednesday.

The crash site was on the rugged, icy west slope of Antimony Ridge, about 2 miles from the rural Johnson Creek Airport where the single-engine plane was headed on Dec. 1 for an emergency landing after it reported engine trouble to the Salt Lake City International Airport control tower.

Crews used a helicopter on Tuesday to lower workers via a rope ladder to the scene. There, they removed accumulated snow from the aircraft's fuselage and then carefully freed and removed the bodies from the scene by air.

"It's a long tedious process," Dayton said.

In addition to Norton and Amber Smith, recovery workers retrieved the remains of the San Jose, Calif., pilot, Dale Smith, and the bodies of his son, Daniel Smith and his wife, Sheree Smith.

After six weeks of fruitless search efforts involving multiple aircraft and hundreds of people on snowmobiles and on foot, the crash site was found late last Friday by two searchers — the pilot's brother, Dellon Smith, and a volunteer companion.

It appeared that the single-engine Beech B36TC aircraft, its wings sheared off, had impacted with such force that all five aboard died instantly.

The plane was en route from Baker, Ore., to Butte, Mont., when it went down some 100 miles northeast of Boise.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims