The search for missing Arkansas Forestry Commission Pilot Jake Harrell ended tragically Tuesday evening as Arkansas National Guardsmen, lowered by helicopter to the site of his wrecked plane, discovered the pilot did not survive.
The site of the plane crash was discovered late Tuesday afternoon after being spotted by a civil air patrol plane.
Spokeswoman Adriane Barnes said it’s still unclear why the plane crash occurred.
“We're going to be under formal investigation about the cause. We're 99 percent sure that the victim inside the plane is in fact, pilot Jake,” said Barnes.
Barnes said it is unknown whether the pilot survived the initial crash.
According to Barnes the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management said the search effort underway since January 31, continually hampered by winter storms, was unprecedented.
“This is the largest search effort that's ever happened before in Arkansas. The location of his plane is extremely steep, nasty terrain,” said Barnes.
Harrell was searching for possible wildfires at the time of the incident.