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Search-and-rescue efforts for forestry pilot continues

Weather halts aerial surveys for Harrell

By Christina Huynh

This article was published February 2, 2014 at 10:43 a.m.

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Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot Jake Harrell, 34, was reported missing Friday after he failed to check-in with the organization's central dispatch. Authorities are continuing to search for Harrell, but the bad weather is making the search "extremely hard" for crews, the organization's spokesman Adriane Barnes told Arkansas Online on Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014.

Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot Jake Harrell, 34, was reported missing Friday after he failed to check-in with the organization's central dispatch....

Authorities are continuing their search Sunday morning for an Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot who was reported missing while conducting a wildfire survey in west Arkansas.

Ground crews covered more than 200 miles on Saturday night on back roads and rugged trails, searching for signs of 34-year-old Jake Harrell or for the single-engine plane he was operating, forestry officials said.

The organization's spokesman Adriane Barnes said in a statement Sunday morning that ground squads are focusing on the steep slopes near Oden and added that four wheelers will be used to access "challenging sections of terrain."

But the weather is making things "extremely hard" for crews searching for Harrell, Barnes said in a phone call with Arkansas Online. Using aircrafts to search for Harrell has been suspended for Sunday because of ice and rainfall in the area.

Barnes highlighted Harrell's survival skills he attained from his time in the Arkansas Air National Guard.

"Jake has survival skills from his time with the 188th division," she said. "We are hopeful that wherever he is he is budded up and warm."

Harrell had a cellphone with him while conducting an aerial survey of the Ouachita National Forest, and Barnes said crews are focusing on this area based on "what is thought to be his last transmission before he went missing on Friday."

Barnes said that last transmission was 1:13 p.m. Friday outside of Oden.

Harrell is a part-time Forestry Commission pilot who has worked for the organization since 2005, and he is as a full-time officer with the North Little Rock Police Department, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

He went missing after he failed to check-in with the commission's central dispatch Friday afternoon. Forestry officials said Harrell had last contacted the commission at 1:11 p.m. Friday and had taken off in a single-engine Cessna 2010 from Oden and was bound for Wickes.

The crews searching for Harrell include the Arkansas Forestry Commission; Polk, Montgomery and Scott County authorities; Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; the Arkansas National Guard; U.S. Forest Service; Arkansas State Police; and local volunteer fire departments.

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DontDrinkDatKoolAid says... February 2, 2014 at 9:05 p.m.

This is becoming a search and recovery.

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