STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

New video shows crash site of stolen plane

New video shows the crash site and blogging made by Richard Russell, the airline worker who stole and crashed a plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. CNN's Kyung Lah reports.

Posted: Aug 13, 2018 11:45 PM
Updated: Aug 13, 2018 11:52 PM

As the plane he commandeered soared above picturesque western Washington State flanked by a pair of military fighter jets ready to shoot him down, Richard "Beebo" Russell had a moment of self-reflection:

"Just a broken guy," he told an air traffic controller in a now famous recording. "Got a few screws loose, I guess."

Then the wayward Horizon Airlines ground service agent added, "I never really knew it. Until now."

Indeed, as investigators seek to determine precisely how Russell absconded with the passenger-less plane and crashed it into an island in Puget Sound, killing himself, another question lingers:

Why?

There are no obvious answers, at least not yet.

A group of friends who issued a statement on behalf of Russell's family said they were "stunned and heartbroken" by the act.

The prepared statement, read aloud to reporters, described "Beebo," as Russell was known to friends and family, as having been "loved by everyone because he was kind and gentle to each person he met."

"This is a complete shock to us," the statement said.

Russell's wife, Hannah, did not attend the press conference at which the statement was read, and has made no public comment on the incident.

His social media postings are full of smiling faces and travel shots. They offer no hint of depression, anger or other factors that sometimes precede such cataclysmic events.

Jeremy Kaelin, a former co-worker, said he was shocked as news emerged that the hard-working, good-natured guy he used to joke around with at work was in the cockpit of the stolen plane.

He said it was "heartbreaking" to listen to his voice on the recording of his transmissions back and forth with the air traffic controller.

"You could tell he was in pain," said Kaelin, who worked the night shift with Russell for eight months in 2016 and his since left the airline.

"Did he screw up something bad in his own personal life? I don't know," Kaelin said. "But whatever happened to him, it really messed him up in the head and I feel sorry about that."

A current Horizon employee who worked with Russell agreed that he had shown no signs of trouble prior to Friday's incident. The worker became emotional as he described listening to Russell's voice on the recording because, he said, it was the last memory he would have.

The worker asked not to be named. He said the airline had instructed employees not to speak with the media.

Russell's online postings and news accounts from various stages of his life provide a broad-brushstroke timeline of his 29 years.

According to a bio he posted on a personal blog, he was born in Key West, Florida, and moved to Alaska as a child. He ran track and played football at Wasilla High School.

He met his future wife, Hannah, in Coos Bay, Oregon, in 2010 while both were attending school. The pair married a year later and opened a bakery together, which they ran for three years, according to Russell's blog.

In 2015, they moved to Washington state to be closer to family, and Russell landed a job at Horizon Airlines. In various videos posted online, Russell describes his job, interviews co-workers and talks about enjoying the perks of free travel.

At a press conference over the weekend, officials said Russell passed a background check at the time of his 2015 hiring that reviewed information from the past 10 years. They said such checks are done every two years following an employee's start date and that Horizon officials were unaware of any criminal charges against Russell.

Kaelin and the other Horizon worker who spoke with CNN said they were much less surprised at Russell's ability to commandeer and fly the plane than they were by the fact that he would do so in the first place.

They said flight simulators, YouTube tutorials, and even video games could tell a non-pilot much of what they needed to know in order to start the plane, take off and fly.

"We've all joked about it like, 'hey, let's just go take it for a spin.' But no one ever meant it," Kaelin recalled. "It's like, who would actually commit to doing it?"

West Lafayette
Clear
79° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 80°
Kokomo
Few Clouds
74° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 74°
Rensselaer
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 73°
Fowler
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
Williamsport
Clear
76° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 76°
Crawfordsville
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
Frankfort
Clear
73° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 73°
Delphi
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 75°
Monticello
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 75°
Logansport
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 75°
Fantastic Friday Weather, Warmer and Wet Weekend Ahead.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 71015

Reported Deaths: 3013
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion15322723
Lake7343274
Elkhart471380
Allen3725160
St. Joseph330179
Hamilton2610104
Vanderburgh184213
Hendricks1814106
Cass17669
Johnson1694118
Porter123839
Clark114846
Tippecanoe114611
Madison89565
LaPorte86930
Howard85565
Kosciusko82712
Marshall75822
Bartholomew75447
Floyd74045
Monroe70830
Delaware68052
Dubois65812
Boone65346
Noble64529
Hancock63838
Jackson5625
LaGrange55410
Warrick55330
Vigo54310
Shelby53527
Grant52029
Dearborn47928
Morgan45134
Clinton4043
Henry36919
White35110
Montgomery34621
Wayne34610
Lawrence33727
Decatur32432
Harrison30923
Putnam2778
Miami2642
Daviess25920
Scott25710
Greene24134
Franklin23413
DeKalb2234
Jasper2192
Jennings21512
Gibson2084
Steuben2043
Ripley1947
Perry17912
Fayette1777
Starke1747
Orange16624
Posey1650
Wabash1613
Fulton1592
Carroll1572
Wells1542
Jefferson1532
Whitley1476
Knox1420
Tipton1296
Huntington1213
Washington1211
Spencer1193
Newton11410
Randolph1144
Clay1045
Sullivan911
Adams892
Jay840
Owen831
Pulaski751
Brown711
Rush714
Fountain642
Benton600
Blackford592
Ohio574
Pike520
Parke501
Vermillion480
Crawford440
Switzerland440
Martin420
Union350
Warren201
Unassigned0202

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events