Stolen US airliner crashes while fighters pursue

An incident at the Seattle Tacoma International Airport led to a temporary grounding of all flights on Friday night

This story was first published on CNN.com, "Plane with only an airline employee aboard crashes after unauthorized takeoff in Seattle, airport says".

A Horizon Air passenger plane has crashed on Ketron Island south of Seattle after being stolen by an airline employee at SeaTac Airport around 8 pm on Friday.

The regional airline is based in the Seattle-Tacoma airport and it's owned by the Alaska Air Group.

Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said information was sketchy and preliminary regarding the developing incident. Confirmed info. this is a single suicide male. Deputies said they know who the 29-year-old man is and they described him as suicidal.

The plane was taken from a maintenance position and was not scheduled for a passenger flight, said Gary Beck, the airline's president and chief executive officer.

The plane, a 76-seater Q400 turboprop aircraft, belonged to Alaska Airlines.

While the jets were in pursuit of the small plane, air traffic control helped the rogue plane stay clear of the Seattle cosmopolitan area, ABC reports.

"Pilots kept plane out of harm's way and people on ground safe", the sheriff said on Twitter. Radar showed that it flew in circles above Ketron Island before going down so maybe the pilot was trying to find a landing zone.

"The person who stole it was either doing it on a lark, or was suicidal", Pastor said, adding there was no indication anyone else was on the plane.

The sheriff's department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the man, whose name was not immediately released.

"I don't want to", Rich says in an elated tone. He briefly turned away, then turned back and saw the explosion as the plane crashed.

No passengers were onboard during the incident and normal operations have resumed at the airfield, the airport said on Twitter. He didn't hear the crash, but saw smoke. "The smoke lingered. You could still hear the F-15s, which were flying low".

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