An airline employee at Seattle’s Sea-Tac International Airport crashed an airplane after an “unauthorized takeoff” late Friday night, the airport confirmed on social media.
Two military F-15s chased the plane but were not involved in the crash, according to the Pierce County (Washington) Sheriff’s department and the Associated Press. The plane crashed into Ketron Island, about 30 miles south of the airport.
The pilot was a suicidal 29-year-old male and a resident of Pierce County, according to Ed Troyer, the county’s public information officer. There was no connection to terrorism, Troyer added.
In a tweet, Alaska Airlines said there was an “unauthorized take-off” of a Horizon Air Q400. No passengers were on board.
The plane “was doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills caused crash into Island,” the department tweeted. Video showed the aircraft doing large loops and other dangerous maneuvers as the sun set.
Ketron Island, in the Seattle metro area, is part of Pierce County. The county is also home to Mount Rainier, the tallest mountain and volcano in the Cascade Range.
A Coast Guard spokeswoman said the agency was responding to a report of a smoke plume and possible plane crash, according to the AP. Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said a 45-foot vessel was headed to the scene.
Royal King to the Seattle Times that he was photographing a wedding when he saw a plan and two F-15 fighter jets trailing it. He said he didn’t see the crash but saw smoke.
“It was unfathomable, it was something out of a movie,” King told the Times. “The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low.”
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.
Contributing: Emily Brown, USA TODAY; KING-TV, Seattle; Associated Press
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