An Horizon Airlines plane has crashed after it was stolen by a ground employee from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on Friday night, according to a senior federal aviation source.
North American Aerospace Defense Command scrambled fighter jets to chase down the jetliner, which was steered away from Seattle and Tacoma by air traffic control, according to the source. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said the two F-15s were not involved in the crash.
Major security incident at SeaTac Airport. All planes are grounded—captain telling passengers a Horizon airliner was taken without authorization, and military jets are scrambling to intercept it. We’re working to confirm information now pic.twitter.com/AQJVzCcxum
— Gary Horcher (@GaryKIRO7) August 11, 2018
The crash happened on Ketron Island, which is southwest of Tacoma, in south Puget Sound. The small island has only a few homes.
The employee who stole the plane was 29 years old, from Pierce County and called “suicidal” by the sheriff’s department. It clarified this was not a terrorist incident.
The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department has a number of vessels on scene, while the U.S. Coast Guard is on scene as well.
— Kai Simpson (@Kai_AHS) August 11, 2018
The Pierce County Sheriff tweeted, “Stolen horizon airplane crashed into Ketron island. Preliminary info is that a mechanic from unknown airlines stole plane. Was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island.”
Alaska Airlines tweeted about an incident involving an “unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400. They said there were no passengers on board. Horizon Air is operated by Alaska Air Group.
We are aware of an incident involving an unauthorized take-off of a Horizon Air Q400. We believe there are no passengers on board. More information as we learn more.
— Alaska Airlines (@AlaskaAir) August 11, 2018
An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound. Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed.
— Sea-Tac Airport (@SeaTacAirport) August 11, 2018
Stolen horizon airplane crashed into Ketron island. Preliminary info is that a mechanic from unknown airlines stole plane. Was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island
— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018