Officials in Seattle say an airline employee intentionally crashed a plane after an "unauthorized takeoff" from Seattle Airport, Friday night. Officials with the Pierce County Sheriff's Office said the stolen airplane crashed into Ketron Island, which is located between the cities of Tacoma and Olympia, Washington.
Police say they believe a 29-year-old mechanic from an unknown airline is responsible for stealing the plane. Officials say no passengers were on-board the aircraft at the time of the crash and that the suicidal man acted alone.
Reports of the stolen plane first came in around 8:30 p.m. PST, and about fifteen minutes later, witnesses reported seeing a plume of smoke on or near the island.
The plane was identified as a Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 commercial airliner. That type of jet is a 76-seat regional turboprop aircraft.
Two F-15s were scrambled from nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord and spotted chasing the stolen plane by witnesses, but they were not involved in the crash.
SeaTac Airport tweeted, "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."
Alaska Airlines also tweeted about the incident saying: "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."
Officials have ruled out terrorism as a motive for the incident. Sheriff's officials are calling it the actions of a single suicidal male and that no one else was on-board the aircraft at the time.
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