'Suicidal' airline mechanic steals plane at Seattle-Tacoma Airport and crashes near a small island
- A “suicidal” airplane mechanic took off in a plane without permission at Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) Airport in Seattle, Washington, and later crashed in Puget Sound, the airport confirmed Friday night.
- The mechanic was killed. There were no other passengers on board.
- No one on the ground was hurt.
A Horizon Air mechanic described as “suicidal” took off in a plane without permission at Seattle-Tacoma (Sea-Tac) Airport in Seattle, Washington, and later crashed near Ketron Island, the airport and law-enforcement officials confirmed Friday night.
The mechanic was killed. There were no other passengers or crew members on board.
Two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled out of Portland, Oregon, within minutes to track the wayward plane, said Ed Troyer, the public information officer for the Pierce County Sheriff.
The ordeal began around 11 p.m. ET. Alaska Airlines, the parent company of Horizon Air, acknowledged the incident in a statement, saying a Horizon Air Q400 plane was involved. The Q400 turboprop plane is manufactured by Bombardier. It’s designed for shorter-distance flights and can seat 76 passengers, Alaska Air said.
The US Coast Guard responded to the crash site where a “large smoke plume” was seen, NBC News reported. The plane was allegedly “flying around Puget Sound,” before it went down. Rescue boats were on scene.
Broadcast images of the crash site showed burning forest land in an apparently dense, dark area near Ketron Island.
The FBI and NTSB are investigating.
Sea-Tac Airport returned to normal operations after a brief ground stop Friday night.
Video shows the plane performing maneuvers in the air:
UPDATE: Airline mechanic stole an Alaska Airlines plane without any passengers and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state before crashing near Ketron Island, officials said: https://t.co/gzqIUY7M4g pic.twitter.com/RWgaArMN1i
— NBC Bay Area (@nbcbayarea) August 11, 2018
My god. This is footage of the *stolen* commercial airliner doing a barrel roll before crashing with it’s lone passenger. You can see the fighter jet following it from behind, seemingly ready to shoot it down. Such a crazy story #seatac
Video from John Waldron on Facebook pic.twitter.com/yWUobaboCS
— John H. Meyer (@BEASTMODE) August 11, 2018
And here’s a radar view of the reported crash site, via Flightradar:
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) August 11, 2018
A glimpse into the mechanic’s state of mind
Dispatch audio of the conversations the mechanic had with air-traffic controllers offered a glimpse into what the man was thinking.
The man, who officials on the ground referred to as “Rich” and “Richard.” He told the officials on the ground he had put gas in the plane “to go check out the Olympics … and uh, yeah,” The Seattle Times reported.
Additional audio posted on social media featured the man appearing apologetic for what he had done. “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them,” he said.
“Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess,” he said. “Never really knew it, until now.”
Listen to a portion of that audio below:
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