Airline employee allegedly steals plane, takes off, then crashes

An airline mechanic who worked on the ground stole a plane at Seattle-Tacoma Airport (SeaTac), took off unauthorized and then later crashed late Friday, SeaTac airport said. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office confirmed a suicidal male, age 29, was on board, and it was not a terrorist incident.

The plane crashed on Ketorn Island in south Puget Sound outside Seattle. It’s a small island with about two dozen residents.  

Two military F-15s chased the plane but was they were not involved in the crash, KIRO-TV reports.  The Pierce County Sheriff”s Department said the sonic boom that was reported was Air Force and not an explosion.

According to the Pierce County Sheriff, preliminary information indicated a mechanic from unknown airlines stole the plane. The Pierce County Sheriff tweeted the person was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island.”

The FBI said it is “communicating with local, state, and federal partners but it is too early for us to put out details on the rapidly evolving situation.”

The plane belonged to Horizon Air, which is owned by Alaska Airlines. In a statement, Alaska Airlines said they are “aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400.” The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats, according to the AP.

CBS Seattle affiliate KIRO-TV reporter Gary Horcher tweeted that all planes at SeaTac were grounded. SeaTac said later that normal operations had resumed.

This is a breaking story. It will be updated.

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