Body of Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot recovered, sent home; Jake Harrell was flying a patrol for wildfires, went missing on Jan. 31
LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas
February 12, 2014
– Firefighters lined the streets in Montgomery County as the body of an Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot body began its journey home Wednesday, 12 days after he disappeared while flying a patrol for wildfires.
An honor guard from the North Little Rock police, where pilot Jake Harrell was officer, and representatives of the commission escorted his remains.
A Civil Air Patrol search crew found the wreckage of the plane at 4 p.m. Tuesday and a crew on the ground soon confirmed that Harrell didn't survive the crash.
The plane was in a remote area of Montgomery County in the Ouachita National Forest, amid terrain with steep hills and thick stands of trees. Searchers also were hampered by the weather, which proved unsafe for flying on most days since Harrell went missing.
Harrell, 34, and his plane vanished on Jan. 31. He missed a scheduled check-in during a two-hour flight and wasn't heard from again.
A funeral service is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at First Assembly of God church in North Little Rock, according to church Pastor Roby Loy, who has served as spokesman for the family. North Little Rock Funeral Home is handling arrangements.
Numerous agencies took part in the air and ground search effort. The commission established a command post in Mena, where activities were organized. Once the plane was found, crews used bulldozers and chain saws to carve a path through the wilderness so investigators could reach the small aircraft. A helicopter ferried out Harrell's body so it could be driven back to North Little Rock.
"The most important part of today was accomplished and that's to send (Harrell) home," Commission spokeswoman Adriane Barnes said.
Work continues at the crash site.
"There is still a huge (crash) scene to secure and a whole crew to debrief," Barnes said.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are working to determine the cause of the crash.
Harrell is survived by his wife and a young son, for whom a scholarship fund has been established, and his parents.
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© 2017 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.