by Max Brantley
-- Game and Fish photo
The state Game and Fish Commission has announced the death of a wildlife officer, Sgt. Monty Carmikle, in a helicopter crash during a flight over Cleburne County looking for night hunters.
A friend of Carmikle reports to the blog that he'd been told the helicopter engine caught fire. The pilot attempted to "autorotate" to the ground, but the descent wasn't level and the rotor struck the ground. It broke apart and threw debris that struck Carmikle.
AGFC wildlife officer dies in helicopter crash
QUITMAN – An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer was killed early Sunday morning when the helicopter he was in crashed in Cleburne County . The officer was participating in an operation aimed at catching night hunters.
The crash took place at approximately 1 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 16 about five miles northeast of Quitman on Highway 25. Killed in the crash was wildlife officer Sgt. Monty Carmikle, 45, of Heber Springs. Carmikle has been with the AGFC since 1985.
The wildlife officer was a passenger in a Bell OH-58 helicopter when it went down in a field on private property. The contract helicopter pilot, Jerry Fryar of Ozark, was taken to a Conway hospital. At this point, his injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.
This is the first time that an AGFC wildlife officer has died in the line of duty since two officers were killed in a plane crash in the early 70s.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. At this time, there is no indication of what might have caused the crash.
AGFC wildlife officer Major Mike Knoedl, said that the entire agency is deeply saddened by the death. “Being a wildlife officer is a very dangerous job. We’re trained for just about everything, but in this instance it was out of the officer’s control,” he said.