Employee steals plane from Seattle airport, crashes it shortly

A Horizon Q400

Late last night, a mechanic working at the Seattle-Tacoma airport, chose to literally steal a passenger plane.

The US Coast Guard said the plane was stolen and was seen flying around Puget Sound at one point, NBC News reported.

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.

ATC Audio from the stolen Horizon Air Q400: "I think I am going to try to do a barrel roll and if that goes good then I am going to go nose down and call it a night".

Sheriff's department officials said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident. Later he said: "I've got a lot of people that care about me". About 45 minutes after the crash, normal operations resumed. He mentioned "having a few screws loose" and demonstrated signs of suicidal ideation.

The family members of the man who stole an airplane and took it on a joy ride that cost him his life described him as "warm and compassionate" and said they are "stunned and heartbroken" over his death.

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"Gov. Jay Inslee thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling jets and said in a statement "there are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident".

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Office, credited the fighter jet pilots with keeping "people on the ground safe".

Officials said Saturday that the man was a 3.5-year Horizon Airlines employee and had clearance to be among aircraft, but that to their knowledge, he wasn't a licensed pilot. Today, the aircraft crashed approximately 50 kilometers from the airport, near the island of Ketron, reports the Chronicle.info with reference to UNIAN.

Russell, 29, worked for Horizon Air's ground crew as a member of the tow team, Christenson said.

"There's a lot of discussion about: What does this tell us?" said Michael Huerta, who retired in January as head of the Federal Aviation Administration. Horizon Air is a division of Alaskan that flies shorter routes in the western US. The FBI said on Sunday that Russell's remains were recovered from the ashes of the debris, along with the plane's flight data recorder and components of the voice recorder. "Saw two fighter jets fly overhead then smoke". Authorities are still at a loss to explain why he suddenly seized control of an empty, 76-seat commuter plane.

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