Airline employee steals empty plane from Seattle’s airport, crashes

Sheriff’s officials said a man who stole an Alaska Airlines plane from an airport in Washington state was “suicidal” and his actions were not connected 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 a Horizon Air Q400 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

No passengers were on board and normal operations have resumed at the airfield, the airport said on Twitter.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island. There were no passengers aboard. Two military F-15s pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, KIRO7 news station in Seattle reported.

Alaska Airlines said that it was aware of an unauthorized take-off of an airplane operated by a sister carrier Horizon Air.

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.”

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 Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

—CNBC and Reuters contributed to this report.

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