President Donald Trump has been briefed on the man who stole a plane from Sea-Tac International Airport in Seattle before crashing it into a small, nearby island.
Air Alaska planes sit on the tarmac at the terminal, following an incident where an airline employee took off in an airplane, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle, Washington, US, August 10, 2018.
Alaska Airlines confirmed the plane crashed "in a wooded area on Ketron Island" and said that "no ground structures were involved at the crash site". There were no passengers aboard. In audio obtained from that conversation, the man - referred to as "Rich" in the transmission - is heard saying: "I've got a lot of people that care about me".
Two military F-15s chased the plane "within a few minutes of theft of plane" and "kept plane out of harms way and people on ground safe", the sheriff's department said.
Irvington Billingsworth said he was at Chambers Bay Golf Course, which is southwest of Tacoma, when suddenly he saw a plane flying very low overhead.
The man was a resident of Pierce County, Wash., and "acted alone", the Pierce County Sheriff's Department tweeted, describing him as "suicidal".
Ultimately, the man crash landed the hijacked Horizon Air Q400 plane after being coaxed by air traffic controllers, but audio and witness accounts paint a disturbing scene.
"This is probably jail time for life, huh?" said Rich.
"Our hearts are with the families of the individual aboard as well as all of our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees", said Constance von Muehlen, the airline's chief operating officer.
The man who stole the plane is believed to be a ground service agent and the incident has not been connected to terrorism.
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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) thanked the Air National Guard from Washington and OR for scrambling the jets, which "were ready to do whatever was needed to protect us", he said in a statement.
The "suicidal" mechanic who commandeered and crashed a plane without passengers from a U.S. airport in Washington state seemed excited, confused, and at times calm while talking with the air traffic control tower. I don't want to.
Sea-Tac operations have resumed as normal, airport officials said; flights had been grounded during the incident.
"They don't have any of that stuff", the air-traffic controller said. They pursued the aircraft before it went down on Ketron Island between Tacoma and Olympia. "I was kind of hoping that was going to be it, you know".
Video footage on social media showed a large plane flying above the Seattle area with a F-15 fighter jet following it. "I'm a broken guy who had a few screws loose. Never really knew it until now".
The last known transmission was from about 8:47 p.m., the Times reported, well before the crash was reported around 9:30 p.m.
Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft near the airport.
Fire crews were working on putting out the fire from the crash on Ketron Island in Puget Sound.
Spokesmen for the Transportation Security Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Aviation Administration directed inquiries to local authorities.