A passenger plane that was stolen from Sea-Tac Airport crashed in south Puget Sound on Friday night, officials said.
This started with a security incident at Sea-Tac Airport at about 8 p.m. Sea-Tac Airport officials said an airline employee conducted the unauthorized takeoff with no passengers onboard. An Alaska Airlines statement said they believed the employee was a ground service agent who worked for Horizon Air.
KIRO Radio obtained audio of a conversation with the air traffic control tower. Warning: Some listeners might find the content disturbing.
Alaska Airlines officials said this involved a Horizon Air Q400.
Pierce County deputies tweeted that the plane had crashed into Ketron Island. Two military F-15s chased the plane but was they were not involved in the crash. Pierce County Deputies also confirmed that this was not a terrorist incident, and tweeted saying, “This is a single suicide male.”
Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said the man in the plane was a 29-year-old Pierce County resident who acted alone.
Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen released a statement late Friday night.
Alaska Air Group CEO Brad Tilden released a statement regarding the incident.
There was an incident late yesterday involving the unauthorized operation of one of our aircraft that took off from Sea-Tac around 8 p.m. We are still gathering facts, but at this point we understand there was only one person aboard, an employee of Horizon Air, who was operating the aircraft. I want to share how incredibly sad all of us at Alaska are about this incident. Our heart is heavy for the family and friends of the person involved. We’re working to find out everything we possibly can about what happened, working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Transportation Safety Board. We are giving those investigators our full support and cooperation. With these investigations underway, our focus will remain on supporting the family of the individual involved, the broader Alaska and Horizon family, and our communities and guests. We will keep the public updated on our blog, where we’ll post updates as information becomes available.
Gov. Jay Inslee released a statement and thanked the National Guard from Washington and Oregon for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe.
“There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding tonight’s tragic incident of a stolen Horizon Airline plane from Sea-Tac Airport. 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 on Ketron Island. I want to thank the Air National Guard from Washington and Oregon for scrambling jets to keep Washingtonians safe. Those pilots are trained for moments like tonight and showed they are ready and capable.”
The FBI has taken over the investigation.
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