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Man Steals Plane from Seattle Airport, Crashes into Nearby Island

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, says on Twitter Friday night that a 29-year-old airline mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 from Sea-Tac International Airport.

Posted: Aug 10, 2018 10:52 PM
Updated: Aug 12, 2018 5:27 PM

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) - The Latest on a plane stolen from Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state (all times local):

9:45 a.m.

Federal investigators say a stolen Horizon Air turboprop plane broke into many pieces when it crashed into an area of thick brush on a small island in the Puget Sound.

But investigators said Saturday they still anticipate they will be able to recover data recorders from the aircraft.

Debra Eckrote, a regional chief with the National Transportation Safety Board, says the wings are off the plane and the fuselage is upside down.

Officials say an airline employee stole the empty plane and took off from Sea-Tac International Aiport on Friday night.

Eckrote said it was very fortunate that the plane crashed in a relatively unpopulated island.

She believes that once NTSB investigators reach the crash site they'll be able to find the cockpit voice recorder and the plane's data recorder.

___

9:30 a.m.

A transportation security expert says a man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle likely had some pilot training, and military craft that pursued him possibly prevented a tragedy.

Erroll Southers says Saturday that the unidentified man represents one of the greatest threats to aviation by being an insider cleared to have access to aircraft. Southers is director of homegrown violent extremism studies at the University of Southern California.

Officials say an airline employee stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off from the airport Friday night. Video shows him doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers. He was chased by military jets before crashing into an island in the Puget Sound.

Southers says that if the man knew how to do loops he likely had the skills to target people on the ground.

5:30 a.m.

President Donald Trump has been briefed on the man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle before crashing it into a small, nearby island.

Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Saturday morning Trump is monitoring the situation. He's currently at his New Jersey golf club. She commended the response effort for its "swift action" and public safety protection.

Officials say an airline employee stole an empty Horizon Air turboprop plane and took off from the airport Friday night. Video shows him doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers. He was chased by military jets before crashing into an island in the Puget Sound. His identity and condition are unknown.

A sheriff's department spokesman said the man may have been suicidal but there was no terrorism connection.

___

12:16 a.m.

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

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.

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.

Authorities say there is no connection to terrorism and they do not believe anyone else was on the plane.

___

11:10 p.m.

An airline mechanic who stole a Horizon Air plane from a Seattle airport told air traffic controllers that he was a "broken guy" but also joked about whether the airline would hire him as a pilot if he landed safely.

The man, who was addressed as "Rich" in audio recordings with air traffic controllers, said he didn't want to land at a nearby military base.

He told them, "Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there."

During another part of the exchange, the man said he was concerned he was going to run low on fuel.

Later, he said he's "got a lot of people that care about me."

He said he didn't want to disappoint them but that he was "just a broken guy, got a dew screws loose, I guess."

10:15 p.m.

Sheriff's officials say a man who stole an Alaska Airlines plane from an airport in Washington state was "suicidal" and there is no connection to terrorism.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, says on Twitter Friday night that a 29-year-old airline mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 from Sea-Tac International Airport.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island. There were no passengers aboard.

The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the man, whose name was not immediately released.

The man could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he's "got a lot of people that care about me" and that he is "just a broken guy."

___

9:50 p.m.

Officials at Sea-Tac International Airport say an Alaska Airlines plane that was stolen by an airline employee and has crashed in Washington state.

Airport officials say in a tweet Friday night that an airline employee "conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers."

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

The Pierce County Sheriff's Office said on Twitter that preliminary information suggested that a mechanic had stolen the aircraft. The tweet said the crash may have been caused by the mechanic "doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills."

A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency was responding to a report of a smoke plume and possible plane crash. Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said a 45-foot vessel was headed to the scene.

___

9:37 p.m.

Alaska Airlines says there was 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.

The airline tells The Associated Press that the plane was a Horizon Air Q400 and it believed no passengers were on board.

No other information was immediately available.

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West.

The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

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