Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Searchers locate body of Boise pilot

Adam Shandro perished in crash in the Sawtooth Mountains

Express Staff Writer

Late Monday afternoon, members of the Elmore County and Idaho Mountain search-and-rescue teams were able to locate and retrieve the body of Boise pilot Adam Shandro, who crashed his Cessna 182 airplane in this remote area of the southern Sawtooth Mountains last week. Photo by

Searchers retrieved the body of downed pilot Adam Shandro of Boise in a rugged area of the southern Sawtooth Mountains on Monday.

Shandro's plane went missing over the remote airspace on Wednesday, June 3. The wreckage of his Cessna 182 airplane was spotted Friday morning in a rocky spot above Browns Lake inside the Sawtooth Wilderness Area, according to the Idaho Transportation Department.

Browns Lake is located at the headwaters of the Little Queens River, in the southwest corner of the Sawtooth Wilderness.

Authorities haven't determined where Shandro was headed because he didn't file an official flight plan. According to a National Weather Service meteorologist in Pocatello, the weather in Stanley that day was warm and windy—with the highest winds hitting 23 miles per hour. That indicates that thunderstorms may have occurred over the mountains.

During Monday's search effort, two Idaho Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopters dropped the search and rescue team off on a high saddle about a 45-minute walk from the crash site, Elmore County Sheriff Rick Layher said Tuesday morning.

Layher flew in with the searchers on the first flight. The precarious nature of the ridgetop saddle meant only one helicopter at a time could drop off its crewmembers, he said.

A rare break in the weather Monday finally allowed the searchers to team up with the Idaho Army National Guard pilots. Stormy weather over the weekend had prevented authorities from organizing a flight into the crash site.

Layher said the spot, which is above 8,000 feet, is still largely snowbound.

"The lake below still had ice on it," he said. "It was 2 degrees when we dropped them off."

The searchers, members of the Elmore County and Idaho Mountain search and rescue teams, found Shandro's body inside the wreckage. According to Layher, it looks like the small plane crashed into the side of a vertical cliff face above the lake.

"It hit right in the side of the mountain," he said.

He said the extent of Shandro's injuries indicate he died on impact. An autopsy was planned for Tuesday.

Layher said the searchers and Shandro's body were picked up and flown back to Boise's Gowen Field a little after 5 p.m.

He said Federal Aviation Administration officials will be in charge of the investigation looking into how the crash occurred. For now, the airplane wreckage remains on site.

Layher said it could be some time before the FAA investigators launch an effort to bring the plane out of the wilderness area due to the snowy conditions and ruggedness of the area.

"I'm sure it's all going to have to be done by helicopter," he said.

Layher said the search effort couldn't have happened as soon as it did without the help and expertise of the Idaho Army National Guard pilots. With more bad weather forecast to arrive soon, rescuers may have had to wait much longer to attempt to reach the crash site, Layher said.

"It would have been another week before we could coordinate that," he said.

An obituary in last Sunday's Idaho Statesman said that Shandro leaves a wife and two daughters. He was known as an expert whitewater kayaker and outdoor enthusiast. A memorial service was scheduled for Tuesday.

Jason Kauffman:

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