MISSOULA, Mont. - The following is a press release from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department:
On 12/19/12 at 11:12 AM, Steve Patrick, Vice President of Montana operations for Stinger Welding, called the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office to report an overdue aircraft.
The aircraft was flown by Stinger Welding owner and CEO, Carl Douglas, of Coolidge, Arizona. A Stinger Welding employee, John Smith of Coolidge, Arizona, was a passenger in the aircraft.
The aircraft, a twin engine Beachcraft, left Coolidge, Arizona, at about 8:30 PM on 12/18/12, and was to arrive in Libby just after midnight. When Mr. Douglas did not check in the next morning, a check of the Libby airport confirmed that the aircraft had not landed. Further checks at other airports confirmed that the aircraft was unaccounted for.
Civil Air Patrol, Montana Aeronautics and FAA were notified. The FAA advised the sheriff's office of a last known position according to their radar as just southeast of Libby.
Sheriff's deputies and volunteers from David Thompson Search and Rescue were dispatched into the area.
Montana Aeronautics dispatched an aircraft from Helena, to search the area. The aircraft was equipped with an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal locator.
A local pilot from Libby also began searching the area and did locate an ELT signal, but was unable to pinpoint the exact location.
The Montana Aeronautics aircraft was able to locate the plane wreckage by following the ELT signal.
Sheriff's deputies and search and rescue members snowmobiled into the area. Searchers used handheld ELT locators to find the site. At 8 PM searchers located an extensive crash debris field in a remote area south of Swede Mountain, about three miles northeast of the Libby airport. Neither occupant of the aircraft had survived the crash.
FAA and NTSB officials were notified. The sheriff's office and county coroner are recovering the remains of the deceased, and the NTSB will be conducting an investigation as to the cause of the crash.
-Sheriff Roby Bowe