Rescue Crews Continue Search For Missing Pilot

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Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Icy roads and freezing rain presented challenges to search efforts for a missing Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot on Tuesday (Feb. 4).

Jake Harrell, 34, has been missing since Friday afternoon (Jan. 31).

Clear skies allowed the Arkansas Forestry Commission to resume searching f0r Harrell on Monday (Feb. 3), after winter weather had halted part of the search.

On Tuesday, however, winter weather presented challenges once more, and the Incident Command Post in Mena worked to gather land and air resources to continue their search during a possible winter weather break.

According to a recent news release from the Arkansas Forestry Commission, more than 1,200 miles were covered by air Monday (Feb. 3), and 7,200 acres were traveled by foot.

The release also states that the search area began as a possible 100 square-mile space that eventually grew to a 756 square-mile space as patterns were studied more closely about the missing pilot’s last possible location.

Search parties continued to grow as officials re-grouped on strategy.

“As weather allows, sub-divisions of Incident Command will be set up by law enforcement in Montgomery and Polk County, forestry officials with the AFC and US Forest Service, and SAR-trained search parties. By breaking search teams into these divisions, more people can be involved in searching, with a continued tight accountability system in place to ensure everyone’s safety in such high-risk terrain,” the release stated.

At this point, the following partners are involved in search efforts: statewide Arkansas Forestry Commission crews, U.S. Forest Service, Polk and Montgomery Law Enforcement, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas National Guard, Arkansas State Police, Emergency Management crews from Polk and Montgomery County, local volunteer fire departments, the National Weather Service, and the North Little Rock Police Department.

Harrell’s wildfire detection plane was last heard from at 1:11 p.m. on Friday (Jan. 31) near Oden in Montgomery County, said Adriane Barnes of the Arkansas Forestry Commission.

Stay tuned to 5NEWS as we continue to update this story as more information becomes available.


  • Retired

    I wonder if this was just your ordinary everyday taxpayer this much time and resources would continue to be spent looking for this individual? Not being heartless, but this thought has crossed my mind. Praying he is found alive

  • Chris

    Not sure what you mean by “ordinary taxpayer”, this guy is a cop and has a side job flying for the Forestry Commission. I’ve been involved in many of these searches, this isn’t an unusual expenditure of effort.

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