TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - Horizon Air employee Richard Russell told an air traffic controller he was "just a broken man" minutes before dying late Friday in the Bombardier Q400 twin-engine turboprop plane, appearing to apologize for his actions. Law enforcement officials identified him to US media.
Authorities ruled out any link to terror. But consternation grew over the safety gaps that allowed an airport worker to easily gain access to a commercial airliner and fly it over a major metropolitan area.
"Everybody's stunned... that something like this would happen," said recently retired Horizon operational supervisor Rick Christenson. "How could it? Everybody's been through background checks."
Russell "had access legitimately" to the plane, said Mike Ehl, director of aviation operations at the airport in the northwestern US state of Washington, adding that "no security violations were committed."
Video taken by a bystander showed the 76-seat plane making a big, slow loop-the-loop as US Air Force F-15 jets gave chase, then flying low over Puget Sound before crashing into sparsely populated Ketron Island, setting trees on fire.