An airport worker told air traffic control that his actions would “disappoint” people that care about him after he stole a plane and crashed it into a deserted island.
Richard Russell, who was a ground services employee with the airline Horizon Air, performed an unauthorised takeoff of a Horizon Air Bombardier Q400 at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport in the state of Washington on the west coast of the US in 2018.
His actions prompted two McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle fighters to be scrambled to intercept the aircraft as air traffic control made contact with him.
The 29-year-old told the control tower: “I’ve got a lot of people that care about me. It’s going to disappoint them to hear that I did this”, reports the Guardian.
Russell managed to navigate the aircraft for over an hour before crashing it 25 miles away on purpose on Ketron Island in the Puget Sound region. He was the only fatality in the crash.
His ability to fly the plane has left people stunned and perplexed ever since because he did not hold a pilot's licence.
When air traffic control asked Russell if he needed any help to fly the plane, he told them: “I don’t need that much help. I’ve played some video games before.”
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According to the Wall Street Journal, Russell then told control: “I really wasn’t planning on landing it.”
The plane crash was not deemed a “terrorist incident” in an investigation by the FBI and was instead classed as suicidal.
Russell left behind his wife Hannah, who he met at a church gathering in 2010 before the pair were married a year later.
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In a statement following Russell’s death, his family said they were “heartbroken” at the actions of “Beebo”, which was his nickname.
The statement read: “It may seem difficult for those watching at home to believe, but Beebo was a warm, compassionate man.
“He was a faithful husband, a loving son and a good friend. A childhood friend remarked that Beebo was loved by everyone because he was kind and gentle to each person he met.
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“As the voice recordings show, Beebo’s intent was not to harm anyone and he was right in saying that there are so many people who loved him.”
It is still unknown as to why Russwll took these actions but Rick Christenson, a former co-worker, told the Seattle Times that Russell was “a quiet guy” who “was well liked by the other workers”.
Russell’s actions prompted increased security checks at Sea-Tac and to look at security measures nationwide.
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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