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Woodland hunters die in Idaho plane crash

Woodland hunters die in Idaho plane crash

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Two hunters believed to be from the Woodland area died in a plane crash Wednesday morning in the remote mountains of Central Idaho, authorities there said Friday.

Searchers aboard an Idaho Army National Guard helicopter at 9:35 a.m. Friday discovered wreckage of a private plane on the side of a steep mountain about 12 miles east of Donnelly, Idaho, said Lieutenant Dan Smith of the Valley County Sheriff’s Department. Searchers hiked to the crash site later in the morning and found that all three people aboard had perished, Smith said.

He said that Steve Hall and Mike Wolf were passengers aboard the plane. Smith did not know their ages or cities of residence, but a family friend confirmed for The Daily News that Hall and Wolf are from the Woodland area.

The accident also claimed the life of the pilot, Dan Wilson, 66, an employee of McCall Aviation. McCall owns the Cessna 206 single-engine plane that vanished in low clouds Wednesday morning shortly after takeoff from McCall with Hall and Wolf aboard.

The Woodlanders were bound for a hunting camp in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in the Salmon River Basin, Smith said. Their plane was one of three that were making the 12-minute flight, but it never showed up and authorities were alerted at 10:41 that morning, Smith said.

The Cessna was equipped with an emergency locator beacon, but the weather Wednesday and Thursday made air searches almost impossible. Officials suspended the search Thursday, but airborne searches resumed Friday morning when the clouds lifted.

Even so, searchers flew over the wreckage several times before spotting it because the plane is green and blended in with timber, Smith said. About two feet of fresh snow are on the ground. It took rescue workers about two hours to hike to the wreckage, which was contained over a small area about 7,800 feet up the mountain.

Smith said the investigation will be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board to determine a cause.

Smith said members of the Hall and Wolf families had assembled in Valley, Idaho, and were being comforted by a pastor from the chaplaincy office there.

The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

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