Seattle Man Dead After Stealing and Crashing Plane, Investigation Underway

12 August, 2018, 09:59 | Author: Billie Castillo
  • A Horizon Q400 airplane

"Doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island", the sheriff said on Twitter.

"This is not a terrorist incident", Ed Troyer with the Pierce County Sheriff's office wrote on Twitter.

Earlier Alaska Airlines reported an "unauthorized take-off" of an airplane and witnesses reported a jet being chased by military planes near Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state. There were no passengers aboard.

Authorities said the man was a Horizon employee for three and one-half years, had clearance to be among aircraft, and was a Horizon Air ground service agent.

Tilden said the system in place is to credential and secure employees and air fields, but not planes.

Two F-15s fighter jets pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, local TV station KIRO7 reported.

The Coast Guard confirms that the plane crashed on Ketron Island, just off the shores of Steilacoom.

Horizon operational supervisor Rick Christenson told The Seattle Times that Russell was a "quiet guy" who seemed well-liked by his co-workers.

In a news release issued Saturday, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said two F-15C alert aircraft were scrambled from Portland but did not fire upon the plane.

Officials from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said they were still working closely with authorities as they investigate what happened.

The aircraft was stolen about 8pm (local time). Preliminary info is that a mechanic from unknown airlines stole plane.

"We believe it (the plane) was taken by a single Horizon Air employee and no other passengers or crew were on board", she said. On Friday around 7:32 p.m., he got in the cockpit of an empty 76-seat Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off without authorization.

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"I'm just a broken guy", Russell told air traffic controllers while he piloted the plane.

"There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile", the controller told him.

"I mean, I would hope it is, for a guy like me".

At one point, he said: "Hey do you think if I land this successfully Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?"

"Got a few screws loose, I guess", he is heard saying in the recording.

The man, who was a ground agent at Sea-Tac Airport and not a pilot, eventually crashed on Ketron Island and died.

He was identified as a 29-year-old ground service agent called Rich or Richard, who lived locally and had acted alone. Investigators are trying to find how he got on the plane.

"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller said.

On Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told media that President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and is now "monitoring the situation" in Seattle.

Russell's social media posts often showed him on adventures with his wife, who he said he met in OR in 2010. At the Alaska Airlines terminal, it was a hushed Friday night.

Gary is at Sea-Tac, I'm in Pierce County headed to where witnesses saw plane chased by F-15s, then a boom, and smoke. Rather than deal with the consequences, it appears that the young man chose to crash in an uninhabited area, taking his life.

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