Game and Fish Officer Killed in Helicopter Crash

QUITMAN, Ark. (AP) - An Arkansas Game and Fish Commission officer died this morning in a helicopter crash in central Arkansas while patrolling for violators of a ban on deer hunting at night.

Forty-five-year-old Sergeant Monty Carmikle was in the Game and Fish helicopter when the Vietnam-era craft went down in a field northeast of Quitman about 1 a.m.. The contract pilot, Jerry Fryar of Ozark, was taken to a local hospital, where he was treated and released.

The two men were the only ones aboard the helicopter. Game and Fish Commission spokesman Keith Stephens said the cause of the crash is not known. Officials were to interview the pilot. Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration arrived at the crash site.

They had the OH-58 helicopter moved to a hangar at the North Little Rock airport. Deer season began a week ago and wildlife officers routinely patrol for hunting violators. Stephens said the agency had heard that someone was hunting in the dark for deer, shining a light on the animals which makes them stop in their tracks.

Carmikle and Fryar began patrolling by air while other officers worked from the ground. The officers on the ground said they did not hear the crash and could hardly see the helicopter when it went down in the dark off Highway 25. Stephens says the helicopter rotor broke off and the fuselage buckled.

The struts caved a bit, but the craft remained upright. Carmikle lived in Heber Springs, and had worked for the state agency since the summer of 1985. He was married and had one son.

He was the first wildlife officer to die in the line of duty since two officers died in a plane crash in the 1970s.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)