Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Seattle Airline Employee Steals Plane, Takes Off, Crashes

Seattle Airline Employee Steals Plane, Takes Off, Crashes

Officials say the "suicidal" airline employee stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off from Sea-Tac Friday night before crashing into a small island.

The man who was flying the plane, identified as a 29-year-old Horizon Air employee, was presumed killed in the crash on sparsely populated Ketron Island. There were no passengers aboard. "Pilots kept plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff said on Twitter.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said on Twitter that the man was suicidal and there was no connection to terrorism.

The incident fell under the ongoing mission of Noble Eagle, the air defense mission launched after the 9/11 attacks, Hillier said.

"A joyride gone terribly wrong", Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said during a news conference in Steilacoom, which is about 3 miles from the island.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement, thanking Air National Guard from Washington and OR for their quick response, and saying, "There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident of a stolen Horizon Airline plane from Sea-Tac Airport".

The sheriff's department said federal authorities would lead the investigation into the crash.

"Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees", said Constance von Muehlen, the airline's chief operating officer. The Q400 is a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

Authorities initially said the man was a mechanic but Alaska Airlines later said he was an employee who helps direct aircraft to gates and de-ice planes.

The governor of Washington, Jay Inslee, thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR on Twitter "for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe".

The "suicidal" mechanic who commandeered and crashed a plane without passengers from a USA airport in Washington state seemed excited, confused, and at times calm while talking with the air traffic control tower. I wouldn't want to do that.

Airline officials say the man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport is believed to be a ground service agent.

At one point, he apologizes and says he is a "broken guy" with "a few screws loose".

"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller assures him. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this".

"I don't know, man", the pilot answers. "Never really knew it until now". "I mean, I would hope it is, for a guy like me".

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft near the airport.

Within minutes of the plane's takeoff, the military scrambled two F-15 jets from Portland to follow the plane, authorities said. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low". NORAD fighters were working to redirect the aircraft out over the Pacific Ocean when it crashed on the Southern tip of Ketron Island in the Southern end of Puget Sound.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement early Saturday that President Trump was briefed on the incident and is "monitoring the situation".

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