Family of man who stole and crashed plane 'shocked and devastated'


An air traffic controller called him "Rich", and tried to convince him to land the airplane.

They intercepted the plane near Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

In one, the controller can be heard telling the pilot: "What we don't want to see is you get hurt or anyone else get hurt, so like I said, if you want to land, that's probably the best way to go".

While in the air, Russell joked for almost 20 minutes with the air traffic control agent, but admitted he had "a few screws loose" and called himself "just a broken guy".

According to the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, the 29-year-old suspect was either "doing stunts in the air" or improperly operating the aircraft during the hour-long chase.

At a news conference in Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, officials from Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air said that they are still working with authorities as they investigate what happened.

The plane wasn't even scheduled to fly at the time of the incident, he said.

In a statement, the airport said: "An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound".

Horizon Air COO Constance von Muehlen said she believed the plane had been taken by "a single Horizon Air employee" and that no other passengers or crew were on board.

On Saturday, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board, FBI, and Alaska Airlines - which operates Horizon Air - travelled to the crash site, which is on a sparsely populated wooded island that is only accessible by ferry.

Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man "did something foolish and may well have paid with his life", according to the AP.

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There was no connection to terrorism, said Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the sheriff's department. "I've played some video games before", he said.

"I would like to apologise to each and every one of them".

NBC reported that the man expressed distress about his mental health while communicating with the air traffic control tower.

"This is a complete shock to us", the family said in a statement they released Saturday night.

In addition to disrupting air traffic control, the incident also caused alarm among locals, many of whom recorded the incident.

"Well", a controller responds, "we're not going to worry or think about that. Pilots kept the plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff said on Twitter.

"I don't know how he achieved the experience he did", Beck said.

An investigation will also seek to determine how a ground service worker was able to access the plane's cockpit and steal it in the first place.

"I've got a lot of people that care about me". "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

Everyday Alaskan's fly to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport but on Friday night flights were delayed after a plane was stolen.

On Saturday morning, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders told media that President Donald Trump was briefed on the incident and is now "monitoring the situation" in Seattle.