Suicidal Ramp Worker Crashes Q400 (Updated, Corrected)


A Horizon Air Q400 crashed on Ketron Island near Seattle-Tacoma Airport in Washington State after 29-year-old ramp worker Rich Russell was able to take it off from the busy international airport. The motive was suicide and it was not a terrorist act. Russell used a tug to turn around the aircraft, which was waiting for maintenance, took the left seat, started it and taxied to a runway to take off. The aircraft was not scheduled to fly passengers on Friday and Russell was the only one on board.

Exactly how he took off without authorization from Sea Tac is unclear but a short time later the aircraft was captured on cell phone video doing aggressive maneuvers, including a full loop that recovered about 100 feet above Puget Sound. There was never any indication that Russell was intending to harm anyone but himself. He was in contact with air traffic controllers and described himself as a “broken guy” with “a couple of screws loose.” After doing the loop he said he planned to try a barrel roll and if that was successful he’d “put the nose down and call it a night.” The aircaft crashed in a wooded area on the sparely populated island about 40 miles southwest of the airport. There were no buildings hit and no one was killed or injured on the ground.