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Airline Employee Crashes Empty Plane After Unauthorized Takeoff From Seattle Airport

A plane has crashed in Washington state after a mechanic stole it from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the Pierce County Sheriff’s office said.

The aircraft took off without authorization and without passengers Friday night with “an airline employee” at the controls, airport officials tweeted Friday.

The plane went down on Ketron Island, which is about 40 miles southwest of the airport, the sheriff’s office said.

The mechanic has only been identified as a 29-year-old man from Pierce County, sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer tweeted.

It is believed the mechanic’s lack of flying skills led to the crash, Troyer said.

In a tweet, Alaska Airlines said a Horizon Air Q400 turboprop aircraft that was involved in an unauthorized takeoff around 8 p.m. local time had crashed.

“We’re working to confirm who was on board, we believe there were no guests or crew on board other than the person operating the plane,” the airline tweeted.

Normal operations at the airport were interrupted for a time by the unauthorized takeoff but have resumed, the airport said in its tweet.