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This undated image shows Dale Smith, who was found in the wreckage of a small plane that crashed in Idaho more than a month ago, killing Smith, a Silicon Valley executive and four others aboard. / AP

A private search team recovered the wreckage of a plane carrying a Silicon Valley executive and four others in the central Idaho mountains Saturday.

Volunteers found the plane broken apart and buried in snow, ending a monthlong search by police, family members and others, the Associated Press reported. On Dec. 1, the aircraft carrying the 51-year-old pilot, Dale Smith, a software executive from San Jose, Calif.; his son, Daniel Smith and his wife, Sheree Smith; and daughter Amber Smith with her fiance, Jonathan Norton, went missing.

The plane was flying from eastern Oregon, where the family had been spending the Thanksgiving holiday, to Montana, where Daniel and Sheree Smith live, when it vanished in the mountains 150 miles northeast of Boise. Dale Smith had reported engine trouble and tried to get information about a backcountry landing strip where he hoped to put the plane down safely.

However, Smith's wife told the AP it appears the plane, which had caught on fire, crashed moments after the last communication. For weeks, family members could only guess what happened.

All five people onboard the plane died.

"It's a real sense of closure to know exactly what happened and to know that they didn't suffer at all," Dale Smith's wife, Janis Smith, told the AP.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Smith, an executive and co-founder of San Jose-based SerialTek, obtained his pilot's license in 2005.

Just before the plane was found, Dellon Smith, Dale Smith's brother, told the Idaho Statesman he was desperate to find his family members.

"At first you feel guilty sleeping in your warm bed at night," Dellon Smith, a commercial pilot, told the paper. "You want to spend every minute out there. You know they're out there."

He was one of the private searchers who located the wreckage.

On Dec. 12, the official search was called off amid difficult conditions, including subzero temperatures, heavy snow, poor visibility and treacherous terrain, the Idaho Statesman reported.

But volunteers, including friends and family, continued with a private search that used online analysis of satellite and other images of the terrain. A pilot later thought he spotted reflecting metal and the online searchers began studying landscape photos of that area, Janis Smith told the AP. That led to a ground search.

"Dellon and his crew spent the entire day, from 3am onward trying to find the right location," she wrote on the plane search Facebook page. "The snow was very deep and the going was very slow. Less than two hours before they needed to wrap up the search for the foreseeable future" they found the wreckage.

Efforts to recover the wreckage are on hold because of severe weather, according to CNN.

Contributing: The Associated Press



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Five found dead in plane wreckage in Idaho mountains

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