Pierce County Sheriff’s Office: Man who stole Horizon Air plane was ‘suicidal’; no connection to terrorism

SEATTLE — A “suicidal” airline mechanic stole an empty Alaska Airlines plane and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport in Washington state before crashing near a small island Friday night, officials said.

Preliminary information suggests that the 29-year-old mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 and the crash occurred because the person was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said.

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

Royal King told The Seattle Times he was photographing a wedding when he saw the low-flying turboprop being chased by to F-15s. He said he didn’t see the crash but saw smoke.

Troyer Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said F-15 aircraft were in the air “within a few minutes” and the pilots kept “people on the ground safe.”

“It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie,” he told the newspaper. “The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low.”

Video showed the Horizon Air Q400 doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun set. 

A Twitter user video captured the incident of a plane flying by in Seattle.

In a tweet, Alaska Airlines confirmed there was an “unauthorized take-off” of a Horizon Air Q400.

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

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life.”

The man’s condition after the crash wasn’t immediately known.

Troyer said on Twitter that the male suspect acted alone, and there is no connection to terrorism.

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.”

The U.S. Coast Guard was sending a 45-foot (14-meter) vessel to the crash scene after witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke in the air, Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said. The man’s condition wasn’t immediately known.

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.

Spokesmen for the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration directed inquiries to local authorities.

loading...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *