Sea-Tac Airport has issued its official response to the hijacking incident on Friday night, assuring the public that there is no further danger.
The airport made a simple response to the plane that was stolen by a lone employee, in a post on the Sea-Tac official Twitter account.
"An airline employee conducted an unauthorized takeoff without passengers at Sea-Tac; aircraft has crashed in south Puget Sound," it read. "Normal operations at Sea-Tac Airport have resumed."
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.— Sea-Tac Airport (@SeaTacAirport) August 11, 2018
As previously reported, a man believed to be an airplane mechanic took off in a Q400 by himself — with no crew and no piloting experience himself. He flew through the air performing all kinds of dangerous maneuvers before crashing into a small island in the Puget Sound. The Pierce County Sheriff's Department identified the hijacker only as a 29-year-old male, and stated that he was suicidal. They took care to point out that the crash was not an act of terrorism.
During his unauthorized flight, the hijacker spoke to air traffic controllers on the ground. They tried to coax him toward runways or, barring that, out toward sea, where a crash would have no casualties. He was also reportedly followed by an F-15 fighter jet.
In his conversations with controllers, the hijacker made no secret about his motives and his state of mind. Canadian journalist Jimmy Thompson copied some of the haunting audio from Broadcastify over to Twitter, where the pilot explained himself.
"I've got a lot of people that care about me," he said. "It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess. Never really knew it until now."
In one snippet, he even seems to consider landing at the runway he is being directed to, before saying "This is probably jail time for life, huh? Well I would hope it would be for a guy like me."
Another clip seems to be a summation of his motive for stealing the plane in the first place.
This clip appears to be just a fragment of a conversation that was stepped on by other traffic, but he is saying something about "chalking it up" to minimum wage. pic.twitter.com/clkUp69A0D— Jimmy Thomson (@jwsthomson) August 11, 2018
"Ah, minimum wage," he said. "We'll chalk it up to that. Maybe that will grease the gears a little bit with the higher-ups."
In addition to the airport itself, Horizon Air issued a statement on the crash on Saturday morning. Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen delivered the response on CNN.
"I'm sorry to share with you this morning that at approximately 8 p.m., one of our Q400 airplanes made an unauthorized takeoff from Sea-Tac Airport," she said. "We believe that it was taken by a single Horizon Air employee, and that no other passengers or crew were on board."
"Shortly thereafter, it crashed on Ketron Island near south Tacoma," she went on. "Our hearts are with the family of the individual aboard, as well as all our Alaska Air and Horizon Air employees. We will provide more information as it becomes available."
If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).