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Body of Illinois woman who walked away from crash found

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Police find body of woman who left crash
  • NEW: Sheriff says a body discovered Monday is a woman missing since December 5
  • Tanya Shannon, 40, apparently walked away from accident that killed her husband
  • Poor weather forced authorities to suspend searches on December 8

(CNN) -- Illinois authorities said Monday they had found the body of a woman who walked away from the December car crash that killed her husband.

Earlier, a television news helicopter spotted a body in a soybean field about a mile south of the remote site where Dale Shannon and his wife, Tanya, crashed on December 5 on their way home from a Christmas party.

Aerial footage from the search site Monday appeared to show a body in the field with red clothing. Tanya Shannon wore a red dress to the party.

The discovery came just as searchers on horseback and helicopters were about to begin a renewed search for the woman, according to LaSalle County, Illinois, Sheriff Tom Templeton.

Shannon, 40, of Ransom, Illinois, was last seen with her husband, Dale, 41, at a party in the town of Streator, about 17 miles west of Ransom, relatives told CNN affiliate WGN.

On the way home, Dale Shannon apparently lost control of the car, which slid backward and crashed into a pole. A relative told the Chicago Tribune that Dale Shannon's back was broken by the impact.

Toxicology tests later showed Dale Shannon's blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit, WGN reported, citing the LaSalle County coroner.

A sheriff's deputy patrolling the area the next morning found the couple's car with Dale Shannon dead in the driver's seat.

Investigators found footprints in the snow leading from the car to a nearby road, but the trail soon ended.

Blowing snow and poor road conditions the night of the accident made it difficult for authorities to stage extensive searches for Tanya Shannon, Templeton said. The search was suspended December 8.

But warmer weather and rain recently helped pave the way for renewed searches, he said.

An autopsy is scheduled for later this week, and authorities are awaiting the results of a toxicology report on Tanya Shannon, the sheriff said.

At the time of the accident, Templeton said there were no indications that the crash and Tanya Shannon's disappearance were anything more than an accident that she had tried to walk away from in search of help.

Relatives described the couple as happy. They had been married 20 years and had four daughters.

"The Shannon family would like to express their appreciation to everyone for their efforts to locate Tanya, and would like to request that their privacy be respected at this time," the sheriff said in a statement.

CNN's Karan Olson contributed to this report.