Crash reported after plane stolen at Sea-Tac

10:15 p.m. (all times local)

Sheriff’s officials say a man who stole an Alaska Airlines plane from an airport in Washington state was “suicidal” and there is no connection to terrorism.

Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, says on Twitter Friday night that a 29-year-old airline mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 from Sea-Tac International Airport.

Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island. There were no passengers aboard.

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.”

9:37 p.m.

The main concourse of Sea-Tac Airport in February 2009.

The main concourse of Sea-Tac Airport in February 2009. (Creative Commons photo by J Brew)

SEATAC, Wash. (AP) — An airline mechanic stole an Alaska Airlines plane without any passengers and took off from Sea-Tac International Airport on Friday night before crashing near Ketron Island, officials said.

Preliminary information suggests that the mechanic stole the Horizon Air Q400 and the crash occurred because the person was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,” the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter. The plane was chased by military aircraft, witnesses said.

Sea-Tac officials said the airline employee had “conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers.”

The U.S. Coast Guard was sending a 45-foot vessel to the crash scene after witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke in the air, Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said.

Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West. The Q400 ix a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.

A spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration directed inquiries to local authorities.

Balsamo reported from Los Angeles.

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