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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
Earlier: Alaska Airlines says it is aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air plane.
Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West.
Please check back for updates
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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