A 27-year-old McCall man spent Tuesday night camped out near the site of a plane crash near Yellow Pine, keeping watch over the area where San Jose pilot Dale Smith's plane crashed Dec. 1, killing him and four of his family members.
Arthur Stock, formerly employed as a machinist at a railroad, was involved with the search team that found Smith's plane Friday on a ridge east of the Johnson Creek Airport. There were no survivors. All five victims were recovered by Wednesday afternoon and were in the care of Valley County Coroner Nathan Hess.
Stock was with Smith's brother, Dellon, on Friday when they noticed a wing from the plane sticking up out of the snow.
Stock's mother, Julie, who lives in McCall, said her son became very close to Dellon Smith and his family during the long effort to find the missing plane. Arthur Stock offered to camp at the crash site to prevent it from being disturbed.
"He just wanted to do it for the family so they have some peace of mind," Julie Stock said.
Stock was accompanied by fellow search volunteer Tony Bench and Tony's father-in-law, Ron Lundquist, according to those following the recovery closely. They were camped out near Johnson Creek Road, a mile and a half from the actual crash site, according to the Valley County Sheriff's Office.
A group of Idaho National Guardsmen, sheriff's deputies and members of the McCall Fire Protection District took part in a painstaking effort Tuesday and Wednesday to locate and recover the victims' remains.
Cadaver dogs were brought in to aid with that effort, said Valley County sheriff's Sgt. Rorie Sapp. The snow was carefully removed, and the site was photographed. The Guard contributed a Blackhawk helicopter that conveyed the group to the scene.
Hess, the coroner, said at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday that the last body had been found. He said he would need dental records and the assistance of a forensic dentist to confirm their identities. But he expected to be able to do that by early next week, and then the remains could be transported to a planned funeral in California.
"The plane hit so hard and broke into so many pieces," Valley County sheriff's Lt. Dan Smith said Wednesday, estimating it hit about eight trees. "And it was an extremely hot fire."
The sheriff's office won't be removing the plane from the site, Sapp said. Authorities have been sending photos to National Transportation Safety Board officials, who will study the wreckage after all the remains are removed. The NTSB will try to determine the cause of the crash and issue a report.
A funeral for the victims of the crash has been set for 10 a.m. Feb. 1 at the LDS Church, San Felipe Building, 4977 San Felipe Road, San Jose.
Katy Moeller is a reporter for the Idaho Statesman. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Link here http://bit.ly/1j8elpe to her story about how strangers collaborated from far and wide to help find Dale Smith's missing plane.