Investigators have found human remains near the crash site of a plane stolen by an airline worker on Friday night.
CNN reports that the FBI located human remains near the site of the now-unrecognizable Horizon aircraft is believed to have crashed on a wooded, sparsely populated island as it was being chased by military jets on Friday night.
Authorities had previously identified the man who stole the plane as 29-year-old Richard Russell of Sumner, Washington, who had been employed by Horizon Air as a ground service agent for 3 1/2 years before Friday’s bizarre incident, which shocked Russell’s friends and family.
“While the focus of our investigation thus far has centered on Richard Russell, 29, of Sumner, Washington, the FBI is awaiting the results of a review by the Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office,” FBI Seattle said in a statement obtained by CNN.
No one else is believed to have been aboard the aircraft when Russell took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, later speaking to air traffic controllers over the airplane radio as he discussed what he should do. The audio indicates that Russell had no intentions of hurting anyone, and that he may have been struggling with his mental health.
A National Transportation Safety Board told CNN that the aircraft is unrecognizable.
“You couldn’t even tell it was a plane except for some of the bigger sections, like the wing section,” NTSB Western Pacific Region chief Debra Eckrote said. “Even the small sections, most of it doesn’t resemble a plane.”
Russell’s family released a statement expressing their shock over the incident, indicating that no one saw anything like this coming.
“This is a complete shock to us,” the family said in the statement. “We are devastated by these events, and Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now.”