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Port of Seattle authorizes $325,000 review of Horizon Air plane theft, crash

Errant path of stolen plane frightens local residents

Quick videography by local residents – John Waldron, Kathleen Treichel and Skylar Jacobson – produced vivid documentation of the plane stolen by a ground crew member at Sea-Tac Airport veering frighteningly close to homes in the South Sound.
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Quick videography by local residents – John Waldron, Kathleen Treichel and Skylar Jacobson – produced vivid documentation of the plane stolen by a ground crew member at Sea-Tac Airport veering frighteningly close to homes in the South Sound.

The Port of Seattle is moving ahead with a $325,000 review of the theft and crash of a Horizon Air turboprop Aug. 10 from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The port on Tuesday authorized spending an additional $275,000 and amending its contract with Ross & Baruzzini to develop a federally regulated after-action report on the incident. The combined total of the two phases of the review and report is estimated at $325,000, according to a port memo accompanying the agenda item.

The port plans to publish results and recommendations of the report in December.

The empty plane was taken by Richard “Beebo” Russell, 29, of Sumner, who worked as part of the ground crew for Horizon Air. He used a tow vehicle to rotate the parked plane 180 degrees before climbing into the cockpit, taxiing and taking flight, according to airline officials.

After staying in flight and performing aerobatics in view of homes in the region for more than an hour, the plane crashed on Ketron Island. Russell was the only casualty.

The review “will include all information relevant to the aircraft abduction event, as well as actions that occurred in the hours prior to, during, and after the event leading to full resumption of operations.”

In addition, the report will review measures airports and airlines can take to prevent another theft and examine ways to anticipate and deter “erratic behavior” of employees who have passed required background checks.

In addition to port’s review, Sea-Tac Airport is leading a national group looking at airport security issues, specifically aircraft security and employee wellness.

“Safety and security are not only our most important responsibilities, but also incredibly personal to all of us whose family and friends are passengers, airport employees and nearby residents,” Port Commission President Courtney Gregoire said in the port’s news release.

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell
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