• Sea-Tac stolen plane crash: Data recorder, human remains found

    By: Cox Media Group National Content Desk


    SEATTLE, Wash. - Officials at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said an airline employee stole a plane Friday and died after crashing on an island in Puget Sound, according to multiple news sources.

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    According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Richard Russell, the “suicidal” 29-year-old airline employee died when he crashed an unoccupied Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 on Ketron Island, 40 miles from the airport. 

    The man spoke with air traffic controllers while doing stunts in the air.  

    Photo shows the stolen Horizon Air turboprop plane flying over Eatonville, Wa. Officials say an airline employee stole the plane with no passengers aboard, and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport Friday night before crashing into an island.
    Courtney Junka via AP

    Update 1:03 a.m. EDT Aug. 13: Federal investigators have found the flight data recorder and “components of the cockpit voice recorder” from the crashed plane, The Associated Press reported late Sunday. The items are being processed by the National Transportation Safety Board, officials said.

    The FBI also found human remains at the crash site, and officials confirmed that Russell died in the incident, the AP reported.

    Read more here.

    >> Ketron Island: 10 things to know

    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,” she said.

    UPDATE: 2:01 a.m. EDT Aug. 11: According to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, the F-15s that were sent to follow the unauthorized plane were scrambled out of Portland, Oregon. The spokesman also said a sonic boom was caused by an Air Force plane and was not an explosion, as originally believed.

    Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor talks on his phone at a staging area, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom, Wash., near where the Coast Guard responded to the Horizon plane crash.
    Ted S. Warren/AP

    UPDATE: 1:19 a.m. EDT Aug. 11: The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office said they were told that F-15s 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.

    Law enforcement officials stand at a staging area, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, at the ferry terminal in Steilacoom, Wash. after a Horizon air employee allegedly stole a plane and crashed it into an island.
    Ted S. Warren/AP

    UPDATE: 12:57 a.m. EDT Aug. 11:  Video from a witness shows the Bombardier 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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