Reporting Steve Miller
Updated: 12/08010 10:48 p.m.
RANSOM, Ill. (WBBM/CBS) - The mystery goes on in downstate LaSalle County where a 40-year-old mother of four vanished after the car crash that killed her husband early Sunday.
Authorities hoped to get some answers from the husband’s cell phone.
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The search for Tanya Shannon has been suspended for “probably the next several days,” says LaSalle County Sheriff Tom Templeton.
Templeton says authorities are hoping the weather improves and there’s a snow melt that would make the search easier.
In the meantime, he says, officials are looking for Dale Shannon’s cell phone. The coroner of LaSalle County says Shannon died of a broken neck early Sunday morning when the car he was in hit a utility pole.
Templeton says Tanya’s cell phone was found in the car, but Dale’s is still unaccounted for.
“We’re still hopeful something will come from that. The tech guys have been working with us on that and the telephone companies have been going out of their way, quite honestly, to help.”
Templeton says a few pings have picked up on Dale Shannon’s phone – and if they’re legitimate, the phone may be near the crash site. However, those signals have since stopped.
“We lost the signal, the batteries probably died,” said Templeton.
And so went that lead.
Tanya Shannon was last seen leaving a friend’s holiday party wearing a red dress and was believed to be riding with her husband when their car crashed a short time later as it snowed. A sheriff’s deputy found the wreck along a well-traveled stretch of highway early Sunday – 41-year-old Dale Shannon was dead behind the wheel and footprints led away from the car.
Other than the slipper found a short ways away, there has been no other sign of Tanya Shannon. She had apparently changed out of her heels for the ride home.
Dozens of searchers braved frigid temperatures for a third day Tuesday to scour an area just miles from the couple’s home in Ransom, Ill. Crews have used thermal imaging .They’ve probed snow drifts with poles. They’ve looked from planes and choppers, and they’ve searched with dogs.
Authorities say Shannon, a part-time waitress, may be dead and her body may be buried in the snow, but they also haven’t ruled out the possibility that she’s still alive. Authorities believe Shannon may have tried going for help and could have been picked up along the road.
“Well, having not found her after a very exhaustive search in the area, that seems to be the plausible explanation,” said Templeton.
If so, was she taken against her will?
The sheriff says Tanya loved her kids and would contact them if she could.
“It’s frustrating not to be able to get a resolution to this one way or the other,” he said. “And if it’s that frustrating to us, I can’t even imagine what the kids must be going through. Everyone’s heart goes out to them.”
The couple’s four children – who range in age from 4 to 15 years old – are in the care of family.
Meanwhile, friends and neighbors are trying to raise money for the four girls.
Carl Watson of Jerry’s Tap says he’s gotten a lot of calls.
“I had one call the other day from Phoenix, Arizona.”
Watson says the man had some questions.
“Well, naturally, he was a little skeptical because about this time of year, everybody’s always worrying about the scams on the TV and the scams on the phone and the scams on the Internet. He goes, ‘Is this legit?’ And I said, ‘Yes, it is.’”
Watson says the jar on the bar has only collected about $100 so far – and of course, he says, they’re hoping for more to help the Shannons’ four girls.
He says they’re also collecting clothing and other things for the daughters.
Watson says anyone who’s interested can call Jerry’s Tap at 815-586-9247, or send a donation to Jerry’s Tap, Ransom, IL 60470.
The frigid conditions that Shannon disappeared into have suspended the search for her — for now.
The sheriff says it is possible they missed her when they covered the terrain three miles east, three miles west, and two miles south of the crash site. They’ll be back out when weather permits.
CBS 2′s Kristyn Hartman and Newsradio 780′s Steve Miller reports.