Thousands attend funeral to celebrate life of fallen AFC pilot

NORTH LITTLE ROCK (KATV) -{}Thousands gathered{}Saturday to celebrate the life of pilot Jake Harrell who was killed in a plane crash late last month.

Saturday{}friends and family and even strangers filled nearly every seat at First Assembly of God in{}North Little Rock church to honor Harrell.

Through song, prayer and tears those who knew Harrell described the tireless days of searching.

"I know god is with Jake or Jake is with god and either way that's ok," said Pastor Rod Loy.

And the moment they received the tragic news.

"We celebrate the life of a good friend and we know that this is not an ending, it's just the beginning," said Randy Jumper, a longtime friend.

Stories often filled the room with laughter.

"If something was wrong, his response was, 'We can fix this, we can do it,' and you have to know when he said we can fix this what he meant was Jake can fix this," said Jumper.

But sweet memories brought some to tears.

"I'll remember Jake as a wonderful family member, an honorable son, a devoted husband, an amazing father, but most of all, I will remember Jake Harrell as my friend," said Jumper.

Also a North Little Rock police officer and National Guardsman, the hour-long ceremony gave those in attendance just a glimpse of who Harrell was.

"Jake was a quiet guy, all this attention would have made him crazy," said Loy.

And for Harrell's family a humbling glimpse of what community is.

"In the middle of tragedy and loss and grief, it's been heart warming, it's been inspiring. It's been truly the best of Arkansas," said Loy.

Authorities are still investigating the crash but say Harrell's plane may have clipped a mountain. Harrell leaves behind a wife and a two-year-old son.