SEATTLE, Wash. - Officials at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said an Alaska Airlines plane was taken by an airline employee in an “unauthorized takeoff without passenger” Friday and crashed in Washington state, according to The Associated Press.
According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, a 29-year-old mechanic took the plane. The mechanic, who spoke with air traffic controllers, was doing stunts in air - that, or a lack of flying skills, caused the plane to crash into Ketron Island, the spokesman said. There were no other people on the plane. A spokeswoman from Horizon Air said she believed the mechanic was a Horizon employee.
UPDATE: 5:11 a.m. The mechanic who took the plane was described by co-workers as “super normal.” He was tasked with moving planes from the cargo area to the flight line between commercial flights. Meanwhile, the FBI office in Seattle has taken over the case. Officials said there are no new updates.
People who knew the Ground Services worker who stole the Horizon Dash-8 plane tell me he was “super normal” and he moved the plane from cargo area to the flight line, between commercial flights. They don’t believe he was a trained pilot.— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) August 11, 2018
The FBI continues to work with our state, local, and federal partners to gather a complete picture of what transpired with tonight's unauthorized Horizon aircraft takeoff and crash. We don't anticipate that further details will be available tonight.— FBI Seattle (@FBISeattle) August 11, 2018
Thanks to everyone for sharing accurate information, insuring the public’s safety. The federal agencies will lead the investigation. All further inquiries should be directed to the Seattle FBI office.— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018
UPDATE: 3:04 a.m. EDT Aug. 11: Washington Gov. Jay Inslee tweeted that there were “still a lot of unknowns” about the crash. Inslee also thanked the Air National Guard units from Washington and Oregon for their efforts. “Those pilots are trained for moments like tonight and showed they are ready and capable.”
There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight's tragic incident of a stolen Horizon Airline plane. The responding fighter pilots flew alongside the aircraft and were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us, but in the end the man flying the stolen plane crashed.— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) August 11, 2018
UPDATE: 2:13 a.m. EDT Aug. 11: In a YouTube video released early Saturday, Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen said she believed the plane was taken by a Horizon employee. “Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard as well as all our Horizon Air and Alaska Air employees.”
UPDATE: 1:19 a.m. EDT Aug. 11: The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said they were told that F15s made it within a few minutes of the plane’s unauthorized takeoff. Pilots kept the plane out of harm’s way, the spokesman said.
Told F 15s made it within a few minutes of theft of plane. Pilots kept plane out of harms way and people on ground safe. Yay air force . They may not admit for a few days. But is true..— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018
UPDATE: 1:10 a.m. EDT Aug. 11: The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that the unauthorized pilot was a 29-year-old man from Pierce County who was acting alone. A spokesman described the man as “a suicidal male” and they know his identity. The spokesman added that it was not a terrorist incident.
Follow this thread for official info. This is not a terrorist incident. Confirmed info .. this is a single suicide male. We know who he is. No others involved.— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018
UPDATE: 12:57 a.m. EDT Aug. 11: Video from a witness shows the Bombadier Q400 passenger plane veering through the sky near Puget Sound near Seattle :
Update 12:45 a.m. EDT Aug 11:
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department has confirmed that the Bombardier Q400 passenger aircraft has crashed in an island in Puget Sound near Seattle.
Stolen horizon airplane crashed into Ketron island. Preliminary info is that a mechanic from unknown airlines stole plane. Was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018
Earlier: Alaska Airlines says it is aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air plane.
We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400. We believe there are no passengers on board. More information as we learn more.— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) August 11, 2018
Air traffic controllers We’re trying to get someone named “Rich” piloting the on authorized Horizon flight to land safely. We’re following reports of a crash now near Anderson Island— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) August 11, 2018
Some dude stole a plane from #Seatac (Allegedly), did a loop-the-loop, ALMOST crashed into #ChambersBay, then crossed in front of our party, chased by fighter jets and subsequently crashed. Weird times. pic.twitter.com/Ra4LcIhwfU— bmbdgty (@drbmbdgty) August 11, 2018
Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
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