The wreckage of a six-seat single-engine plane that disappeared from radar in a mountainous area of Idaho shortly after its pilot radioed air traffic controllers about engine trouble on Dec. 1 was found Friday, officials said.
"There appears to be no survivors at this time. Due to weather conditions and a severe storm moving in recovery efforts may be delayed," Lt. Dan Smith of the Valley County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.
The pilot of the missing 1980s-model Beechcraft Bonanza plane was Dale Smith, 51, a Silicon Valley executive from San Jose, Calif. Also on board were his son, Daniel Smith, and his wife, Sheree Smith; and daughter Amber Smith with her fiance, Jonathon Norton.
The aircraft was flying from eastern Oregon, where the family had been spending the Thanksgiving holiday, to Montana, where Daniel and Sheree Smith lived, when it vanished Dec. 1, in the mountains some 150 miles northeast of Boise.
Dale Smith’s wife, Janis, said her husband’s brother, Dellon Smith of Anchorage, Alaska, was one of the private searchers who discovered the felled plane, according to the AP. Dellon Smith told Janis the plane had split apart and was submerged in snow. And he told her it was clear from the look of the wreckage that those aboard perished quickly, she said.
“It’s a real sense of closure to know exactly what happened and to know that they didn’t suffer at all,” she told the AP.
Authorities had suspended the search for the aircraft in mid-December — and yet a team of volunteers, including friends and relatives, persisted with a private search that used online analysis of satellite and other images of the mountainous terrain.
Before disappearing from radar, Dale Smith reported engine trouble and sought information about a strip where he hoped he could land safely.
The Idaho Statesman newspaper said Dale Smith's wife Janis thanked searchers via a Facebook page and wrote that the plane was found "less than two hours before they needed to wrap up the search for the foreseeable future," according to NBC Bay Area.
NBC News' Daniel Arkin and The Associated Press contributed to this report.