Airline Reports Stolen Aircraft at Sea-Tac, Witnesses Report Chase
SEATAC -- Pierce County sheriff's officials say a man who stole an Alaska Airlines plane from Sea-Tac International Airport was "suicidal" and there is no connection to terrorism.
Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, said on Twitter Friday night that a 29-year-old airline mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 from Sea-Tac International Airport.
Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island. No passengers were aboard.
The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the man, whose name was not immediately released.
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."
Airport officials tweeted that an airline employee "conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers" and a Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency was responding to a report of a smoke plume and possible plane crash. Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said a 45-foot vessel was headed to the scene.
The airline told The Associated Press that the plane was a Horizon Air Q400.
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.