updated 12/9/2007 4:41:29 AM ET 2007-12-09T09:41:29

Searchers have found a body and wreckage from a medical helicopter missing since Monday, a spokesman for the rescue effort said.

The body of John Stumpff, 47, a flight nurse, was discovered Saturday on the north shore of Passage Canal near Whittier in Prince William Sound, said McHugh Pierre, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Still missing are three other people aboard the Eurocopter BK 117: patient Gaye McDowell, 60, pilot Lance Brabham, 42, and paramedic Cameron Carter, 25. The search was to resume before dawn Sunday.

“We’re going to assume there are survivors,” Pierre said, citing warm weather as favorable conditions for survival.

Searchers on Saturday also found wreckage that has been identified as part of LifeGuard Alaska helicopter, including the left rear sliding door, Pierre said.

The aircraft was heading from Cordova to an Anchorage hospital when it disappeared in blowing snow Monday evening.

The helicopter crew last made contact with operators shortly after 5 p.m. Monday as they flew near Esther Island, about 75 miles southeast of Anchorage, according to officials with the Air National Guard, which was leading the search. The trip from Cordova to Anchorage is about 150 miles by air and usually takes about 90 minutes.

LifeGuard Alaska is operated by Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage.

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