Officials in Seattle, Washington stated that a highjacked plane plummeted to the ground on a Puget Sound Island on Friday night, Aug. 11, 2018. The crash occurred shortly after the unauthorized takeoff from the Seattle-Tacoma (SeaTac) International Airport.
After the plane crashed, observers stated they saw a giant cloud of smoke in the air hovering over Ketron Island. Officials explained no passengers were believed to be aboard the Q400 Aircraft.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department reported they did not know if any inhabitants of the sparsely populated on the island were injured.
Authorities initially stated the hijacker was an unidentified suicidal 29-year-old male. He was later identified as Richard Russell, a resident of Summer, Washington and an employee of Horizon Air. Russell was not pilot and worked for the company three years.
The public was able to hear the hostile pilot communicating with air traffic controllers. Social media users were witness to the drama as it unfolded.
The Seattle Post–Intelligencer reported Russell stated that a lot of people cared about him and it will disappoint them when they hear that he hijacked the plane. He would like to apologize to every one of them. Then he added that he was just a broken guy with “a few screws loose.”
Russell attempted to make light of his situation by jokingly stating that if he could land the plane down to the ground safely, the airline might hire him as a pilot.
Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor, said that the man did something thoughtless and paid for it with his life. The Sheriff’s department said that they are initiating an investigation to determine further how Russell was able to hijack the Horizon Air turboprop.
After he took off from SeaTac, military jets were dispatched to intercept the aircraft, they safely. Russell was flying erratically and his unauthorized flight ended in the crash. The F-14 pilots successfully maneuvered Russell into the airspace above the sparsely populated islands. Officials said that they do not believe that he was a licensed pilot.
Authorities further added that his ability to achieve the knowledge to do loops in the plane an hour before he crashed it to his fatal death is uncertain. During a news conference at SeaTac, Horizon Air and Alaska Airlines officials said that they are continuing to cooperate with authorities during the progression of the investigation.
Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden stated that safety is their number one priority. The incident has prompted his airline to review their safety procedures to determine where their policies failed to prevent the hijacking to avoid another incident.
Before crashing the plane, Russell told traffic controllers that he did not want to hurt anyone.
By John A. Federico
Edited by Cathy Milne
Fox News: Plane crashes after ‘unauthorized take-off’ from SeaTac airport, officials say
CBS Denver: Authorities Probe How ‘Suicidal’ Employee Could Steal Plane
Yahoo News: Airline worker who stole plane told air traffic controllers: ‘I don’t want to hurt no one’
Featured Image Courtesy of Joe A. Kunzler’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License