Church group helps family of missing Sun Prairie man, fiancee

Plane disappeared in central Idaho Sunday

Published On: Dec 05 2013 09:44:23 PM CST   Updated On: Dec 06 2013 07:19:31 AM CST
SUN PRAIRIE, Wis. -

A new group of people is helping the family of a missing Sun Prairie man, his fiancee and her family.

Jonathan Norton and Amber Smith’s plane disappeared Sunday afternoon over Idaho’s central back country.

Norton grew up Mormon and a member of Sun Prairie’s congregation. It’s deploying its Relief Society to help Norton’s family in Wisconsin.

"I've been kind of following it for what we need to do," Brooke Johnson said.

Johnson is the president of the area’s Mormon Church’s government body, called a stake. He also knows Norton’s family well, who attend Sun Prairie’s branch.

"It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live," Johnson said. "Everyone can relate to this."

Besides Norton and Smith, Smith’s brother and sister-in-law were on the plane that her father was piloting. He reported engine trouble and radar picked up the plane in Yellow Pine, Idaho, four hours north of Boise.

There are at least 90 searchers on the ground, along with eight aircraft in the sky.

"We’re hoping with those Apache (helicopters) down lower and slower with infrared, we’re hopeful we can find them soon," Matt Dayton, Norton’s uncle, said.

The support out west is mimicked at home, with help from the Church’s Relief Society. Johnson described it as the oldest and largest group of women in the world.

"They’re there to make sure the kids are fed, make sure the house gets cleaned up," Johnson said. "Or if they just need someone to talk to."

"They brought my sister meals every day," Dayton said. "We’re very appreciative of that."

Odds may be stacked against a young couple, set to marry Jan. 4, but for some, there’s hope because faith is on their side.

"That’s one of the reasons why we focus so much on building families, focusing on families and strengthening marriages because it’s one of the few things that continue on," Johnson said.

Friday, crews will focus on drainage areas near an airstrip they picked up a weak transmitter signal from earlier in the week.

If you want to help, Johnson recommends calling the Sun Prairie congregation for suggestions at 608-837-7653.