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Funeral arrangements set, scholarship fund started for forestry pilot

Funeral arrangements have been set for Jake Harrell, a North Little Rock police officer and Arkansas Forestry Commission pilot whose plane went down Jan. 31 in Montgomery County and whose remains were found Tuesday.

Harrell’s funeral will be 10 a.m. Saturday at the First Assembly of God Church in North Little Rock, 4501 Burrow Road, according to a press release from the Forestry Commission. Visitation will be 5-7 p.m. Friday at the same location.

A Brayden Harrell Scholarship Fund has been set up for Harrell’s son. The fund is open at all Simmons First National Bank and Metropolitan Bank locations. Donations can be taken to any of those banks. Individuals should reference the fund by name to contribute.

“We will do all that we can to honor our brother and friend in the days to follow,” said Billy Black, incident commander and AFC law enforcement officer. “We cannot begin to thank so many responsible for helping us bring him home. We stand in absolute gratitude and thanks to our partners and friends who have supported us through this incident.”

The downed plane that Harrell piloted remains in Montgomery County at a location 26 miles away from his last check-in point. The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are now at the scene to complete a full examination of the area and aircraft. Montgomery County Law Enforcement will be working with these organizations to wrap up all official scene investigation. No other details about the site or flight will be available until both of these investigations are complete.

The plane carrying Harrell was discovered at 4:05 p.m. Tuesday by a Civil Air Patrol plane. This sighting was confirmed by a State Police helicopter. Moments later, a National Guard helicopter also confirmed the sighting and lowered a guardsman. This guardsman confirmed that deceased remains were inside the aircraft.

Some hours later, after a road was constructed, Harrell’s remains were carried from the mountainside by a National Guard Black Hawk helicopter to the Mena Airport. He received the welcome of a fallen hero and was escorted back to Little Rock by the North Little Rock Police Department Honor Guard and AFC Law Enforcement officials. The path was lined by fire departments from Montgomery County all the way to Pulaski County standing to honor Harrell’s journey back to his home.

Participating in the search were: statewide Arkansas Forestry Commission crews, U.S. Forest Service, Polk, Scott, and Montgomery County Law Enforcement, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Arkansas National Guard, Civil Air Patrol, Arkansas State Police, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management, Arkansas Geographic Information office, local volunteer fire departments, volunteers across Arkansas that offered to assist in search efforts every day, local residents willing to provide information about plane sightings, the Red Cross and the National Weather Service.

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