Man camped in Idaho wilderness for weeks to search for plane crash victims

Print
Email
|

by Stephanie Zepelin

khou.com

Posted on January 17, 2014 at 7:21 AM

VALLEY COUNTY -- Arthur Stock camped for weeks, enduring frigid temperatures in the Idaho wilderness to help search for plane crash victims he'd never know.

Since the first of December, the Smith and Norton families had been searching for five of their loved ones who went missing when pilot Dale Smith's airplanes vanished in the Idaho wilderness.

Both families asked for Idahoans who knew the area to assist in search efforts after the Valley County Sheriff's Office scaled back their involvement in the search.

Arthur Stock felt destined to respond to the call.

The Valley County man whose backcountry skill and comfortability made him well-suited for the task, said he simply had the time and knowledge, and thus volunteered.

Stock told Newschannel Seven he'd heard about the missing plane and the call for help through the news. When he looked outside at the mountains, he felt a pull towards them, and to go help in the search.

"I'm an avid outdoorsman; I do know the mountains up here, the climate, but no, I have not done anything like this before, I've never been involved in a search and rescue situation," said Arthur Stock.

Stock spent much of December aiding in the search. He carried more than 80 pounds of gear into the mountains near Yellow Pine in sub-zero temperatures.

"I have no reason to not help out," he said. "I had the time, I had the ability, and with those two you don't want to just sit around and feel like you could help out."

Stock joined other volunteers and family members scouring the area around Yellow Pine for weeks. Due to the rough terrain, Stock said the party searched nearly everywhere but where the crash actually happened.

"You had sheer cliffs off of one side, deep snow on the other side, thick trees, downfalls," he said. "So the terrain was difficult and overwhelming at times."

Searchers eventually got a snow cat from California, allowing them to go up the mountain to the area of the crash. The day the plane was found, there were eight people out on the mountain. They split into two man teams. Stock went out with Dellon Smith, the pilot's brother.

"And within minutes we come upon the scene," Stock said. "So it happened very unpredictably. It was almost as if something was pulling us in that direction because there was no wavering in our tracks, we had just gone straight to it."

Stock said he went up in the search planes and flew over that area several times, but never saw anything. Even from the ground, he said it was hard to see.

"When you come upon the wreck, visibility it was very hard to distinguish between that area and anything else in the area because of the snow fall," said Stock. "So for us to come upon it was just a miracle."

Stock said he formed a bond with other searchers and the family members, including the pilot's brother, Dellon Smith.

"As we continued to search for his family, we became pretty close. I would say he's a brother of mine," said Stock.

The victims' family bought Stock a plane ticket to San Jose, so he can be at the funeral planned for the victims.

Print
Email
|