By Chris York
The 29-year-old mechanic who stole a plane from a Seattle airport before crashing it into the ground was recorded telling air traffic controllers that he is “just a broken guy”.
Authorities called the man “Rich”, and tried to convince the man to land the plane as he flew over Puget Sound.
“There is a runway just off to your right side in about a mile,” the controller says, referring to an airfield at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“Oh man. Those guys will rough me up if I try and land there,” the man responded, later adding “This is probably jail time for life, huh?”
Later the man said: “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this…Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess.”
He then said he would perform a last barrel role before he crashed into a sparsely populated area of Ketron Island.
Video footage on social media showed a large plane flying above the Seattle area with a F-15 fighter jet following it. Two F-15s pursued the plane but were not involved in the crash, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department said.
Male is confirmed a suicidal male. Acted alone he is 29 year old Pierce county residence . We are working back ground on him now.
— Pierce Co Sheriff (@PierceSheriff) August 11, 2018
The sheriff’s department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident, whose name was not immediately released.
The incident is not thought to be terrorism-related.
The aircraft was stolen at about 8pm, Alaska Airlines said it was in a “maintenance position” and not scheduled for a passenger flight.
Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the US West. The Q400 is a turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.
Pierce County Sheriff Paul Pastor said the man “did something foolish and may well have paid with his life”.
Useful websites and helplines:
- Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
- Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI – this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
- The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: [email protected]