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AFC pilot identified; search continues

January 31, 2014

FROM THE ARKANSAS FORESTRY COMMISSION:

Mena, Ark. – AFC pilot, Jake Harrell, failed to make a scheduled check-in with AFC Central Dispatch in Malvern yesterday after 1:11 p.m. Harrell was flying a regularly scheduled detection flight from Malvern to points throughout west Arkansas. His last known location was Oden, with supposed intent of traveling toward Wickes.

Harrell,34, is a seasoned pilot with the AFC since 2005. He had flown many times on the very route that he traveled Friday. He currently flies as a part-time pilot with the AFC and works full time with the North Little Rock Police Department. He also serves with the Arkansas Air National Guard 188th Fighter Wing.

The search for Harrell continues by both air and ground. Ground crews include two and three-person teams searching gridded locations in Montgomery and Polk Counties – close in proximity to a possible route he may have been flying between check points in Oden and Wickes. Crews are searching by foot and four-wheelers. Chainsaw crews and dozers are on standby. Two Civil Air Patrol planes and a National Guard helicopter are assisting with search efforts from the air. Visibility is difficult from the air at this time; ground crews have better visibility until conditions clear.

The Incident Command structure in Mena is a Unified Command team with the following partners involved: Arkansas Forestry Commission, Polk and Montgomery County Law Enforcement, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas National Guard, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas State Police, Emergency Management crews from Polk and Montgomery County, local volunteer fire departments, and the Civil Air Patrol.

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