An airline worker took off in a stolen airplane at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday evening in an episode that pissed off stranded vacationers, riveted witnesses and ended with the airplane crashing about 30 miles from the airport, the authorities stated.
The man, a 29-year-old who acted alone, was considered suicidal, stated officers in Pierce County, the place the airplane crashed. No one else was believed to be on the 76-seat airplane or injured on the bottom.
“An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac,” the airport said in a tweet. “Aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.”
Alaska Airlines said in a statement that it believed that the one that took the airplane was a floor service agent employed by Horizon Air, a subsidiary. The takeoff occurred round eight p.m. and concerned a turboprop, a Q400, flying for Horizon. The flight appeared to final slightly below an hour.
Early Saturday morning, Horizon’s chief working officer, Constance von Muehlen, stated in a video statement that “our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees.”
The stolen airplane crashed on Ketron Island, southwest of the airport, and a neighborhood tv station showed a wooded area in flames that it known as a particles area.
Sheriff Paul Pastor of Pierce County told The Associated Press that the person flying the airplane “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life.”
The county sheriff’s workplace said in a tweet: “We know who he is. No others involved.” It added that it was not a terrorist episode, and that two F-15 fighter jets had responded within minutes of the theft.
Sheriff Pastor told The Seattle Times that the flight was “a joy ride gone terribly wrong,” and movies recorded by onlookers on the bottom present the airplane diving, looping and rolling over Puget Sound at sundown.
On Saturday morning, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, stated in a press release that President Trump was monitoring the state of affairs. “Federal authorities are assisting with the ongoing investigation, which is being led by local authorities,” the assertion stated. “We commend the interagency response effort for their swift action and protection of public safety.”
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State tweeted late Friday that there have been nonetheless “a lot of unknowns” in regards to the tragedy. But he thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and Oregon for shortly sending the jets.
“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,” Mr. Inslee stated.
Air visitors controllers communicated with the pilot to attempt to assist him land safely, the Federal Aviation Administration stated in a press release.
The Seattle airport was dropped at a standstill for a part of Friday night. On one Alaska Airlines flight from Portland, Ore., passengers have been caught on the tarmac after touchdown and knowledgeable by the pilot that there had been a problem with one other airplane on the airport, and that gates have been backed up with 40 planes ready.
Observers chronicled the airplane’s course on social media and listened in to radio visitors in actual time. While the airplane was still aloft, the person flying it chatted with officers in a frenzied stream of consciousness, commenting on the fantastic thing about the Olympic Mountains, the prospect of jail time and shock at his quickly fading gasoline tank.
He stated he hoped to have a “moment of serenity” within the air however lamented that the sights “went by so fast.” He additionally talked about doing a barrel roll within the air and questioned aloud about whether or not the airplane may do a again flip.
“I got a lot of people that care about me and it’s gonna disappoint them to hear that I did this,” the person might be heard saying. “I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess. Never really knew it until now.”
At one level, an official urged him to land the airplane.
The man sputtered.
“I don’t know man,” he stated. “I don’t know. I don’t want to. I was kind of hoping that was gonna be it.”
Jason M. Bailey and Kirk Johnson contributed reporting.