Richard Russell, a former airline worker, stole an airplane and flew it, crashing it after 75 minutes last Saturday. The aircraft’s remains were discovered on Aug. 13 on an island near Puget Sound, Washington.


The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport affirmed that “all security protocols were handled appropriately,” though that didn’t prevent the 29-year-old from stealing an airplane.


According to officials, the plane discovered on the inlet was the same 76-seat Horizon Air Q400 Russell absconded with, noting that various components in the plane’s ruined remains matched. Only the larger remnants of the aircraft still resembled an airplane.

Additionally, Russell was discovered dead in the wreckage on Sunday by Washington’s Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office. As people wondered how someone could successfully take off in a pilfered airplane in a post-Sept. 11 world, Russell discussed with a flight controller about how much damage he could do, wondering if he had enough fuel to make it to the Olympics.

Russell also told the controller, who kept trying to persuade him to safely land the plane, that he knew a lot of people who cared about him and he chatted about the view. Describing himself as “a broken guy,” Russell did compliment the controller, saying, “You are very calm, collect, poised.”

Investigators believe Russell may have been suicidal. According to one of Russell’s former coworkers, Russell was growing progressively more concerned over his financial situation. “He’s worked at Horizon longer than I did, and he still wasn’t making $15 an hour,” Robert Reeves said to KIRO.

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