Bay Area CEO's plane goes missing over Idaho

The CEO of SerialTek and his family were flying to Montana when their small plane disappeared over the Idaho wilderness.
December 3, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A Bay Area family is believed to be missing in the Idaho wilderness after a Thanksgiving weekend with relatives.

Their small plane took off from Baker City, Oregon on Sunday afternoon and was bound for Butte, Montana. But somewhere near Valley County, Idaho, the pilot called air traffic control reporting engine problems and asked to land his plane at a remote airstrip. Now no one can find them.

Dale Smith and his family were longtime members of a Mormon church in South San Jose. The congregation is paying that all of them will be found safe.

"If there's anyone who can survive a difficult situation, it would be Dale," said Bishop Jed Dyreng, a family friend.

Smith's single-engine Beech Bonanza disappeared in Idaho backcountry Sunday, the plane was carrying five family members from Oregon to Montana. The pilot reported engine trouble and asked controllers in Salt Lake City for coordinates to the Johnson Creek Airstrip, but the plane never landed.

Sheriff's deputies in Valley County, Idaho are leading the search.

"So, we've done a ping on cellphones, we've narrowed it down to a four to five-square-mile area that we're searching right now," said Valley County Shieriff's Lt. Dan Smith.

Smith is the CEO of SerialTek, a Silicon Valley software maker. He's been flying small planes longer than anyone can remember.

"He was a really good pilot, so I'd be surprised if anything happened, maybe he ran into some bad weather," said Linda Castillo, a neighbor.

"We are a little bit worried," said Ann Dyreng. She flew to Utah with Smith in October and recalls how safety conscious he was. "He's got an engineer brain and he's very meticulous about doing all that. He's meticulous in all the things he does. So he's a good guy."

But most know Smith as a family man with a strong connection to his community and his Mormon faith.

"When there was Hurricane Katrina, Dale was the first one to get in his plane, grab a bunch of members of the church and go out and help," said Dyreng.

Smith's South San Jose home is quiet and the mailbox full. Many hope the family can find their way back home.


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