Mena, Ark. – Day 3 for missing AFC Pilot, Jake Harrell, has passed with no success in bringing home the 34-year old who went missing after 1:11
Friday afternoon in the Ouachita region just south of Oden. Searchers have worked along strategically designed routes with chainsaws and four-wheelers to access narrow passages throughout the area. By air, thirteen aircraft have combed grid patterns, rigorously searching for any sign of Jake and his plane.
No call has gone unanswered amid the many hopeful news tips provided by local residents, describing details about plane sightings on Friday afternoon. That information, paired with carefully studied points generated by the last signal obtained from Jake’s cell phone and radio helped to narrow the search area. By the day’s end, the area of focus grew to some 756 square miles. Jake’s small plane takes up only 360 feet – a tiny dot in the massive forested space of National Forest Service land affected by remaining ice storm damage and limited accessibility.
Ground crews consisted of trained, equipped teams from the Arkansas Forestry Commission, U.S. Forest Service, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, and the National Guard. Air crews included the National Guard, State Police, Civil Air Patrol, and AFC planes. Every resource available, and every effort possible – within a tight accountability system for ultimate safety of all involved – is being utilized.
“We are looking at an area that is 400,000 acres in size, for something very small in comparison. We are doing absolutely everything we can to cover this land by foot and by air. This team of so many all want the same thing – to get Jake home,” said Montgomery County Sherriff, David White.
“This is a very complex search because it includes pieces of three different counties and so many different agencies. Every person here wants Jake home, right now. We are going to every effort to get this pilot back where he belongs,” said Polk County Sherriff, Mike Godfrey.
The search continues into tonight and tomorrow. Incident Command is carefully monitoring tomorrow’s weather situation with a contingency plan in place, should routes need to be re-considered around possible icy conditions.
The Incident Command structure in Mena continues as a Unified Command effort with the following partners involved: 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.