Plane, missing since November, found

May 23, 2001 11:00 pm

By CHRIS COLLINS

Of the Baker City Herald

The burned wreckage of a Baker Aircraft plane that disappeared Nov. 16 with pilot Brian Moody and his passenger, Keith Williams, aboard has been found in the Hells Canyon area north of Weiser, Idaho.

The bodies of both men were also recovered, and taken to the Washington County Coroners office in Weiser.

The Cessna 206 fixed-wing aircraft crashed into rugged terrain 27 air miles from Weiser, according to Washington County, Idaho, Sheriff Marvin Williams.

Moody, 34, owner of Baker Aircraft, and Williams, 29, of Spokane, Wash., were reported missing Nov. 16 when they failed to arrive as scheduled at the Oxbow airstrip. They were working for Idaho Power Co. to survey radio-collared mule deer on the Oregon and Idaho sides of the Snake River when their plane disappeared.

Weiser rancher Harry Soulen found the wreckage Monday while riding horseback to gather cattle on his ranch just west of Sturgill Mountain in the area of Limestone Springs, the sheriff said. The plane was found lying in a creek bed in heavy brush.

Soulen notified the sheriffs department Tuesday and then led a team to the site Wednesday. The sheriff, four deputies and the county coroner spent the day recovering the remains of the bodies.

The site was 56 road miles north of Weiser, Williams said. The team was able to drive to within about a half-mile of the wreckage and then walked the remaining distance, which climbed 1,000 feet into the mountains.

It was extremely steep, rugged country, Williams said.

The walk to the crash site took about 15 minutes, but because of the steep terrain, it took more than an hour to walk out, he added.

It was no surprise that searchers were unable to find the plane, despite a nearly month-long effort by hundreds of people, he added. The heavy brush cover made it difficult to see the wreckage and at an elevation of 4,800 feet, it probably was covered in snow during much of the search.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to travel to the crash site next week to consider removing the wreckage from the property, he said. That work would have to be done by helicopter.

Williams said he had planned to launch another ground search for the plane in the next week or so.

I felt we needed to make an effort, if nothing more than just for the family, he said.