Sacramento Airplane Passengers on Edge After Airline Employee Steals Airplane and Crashes it

SACRAMENTO -- People at the Sacramento International Airport share their reactions Saturday night, after a 29 -year-old man was killed when a plane he stole crashed.

It happened around 8 p.m. Friday night.

People just getting off flights at the Sacramento airport, breathing a sigh of relief.

They say their flight went as planned but just knowing something like that happened puts them on edge.

“I was like, that’s crazy,” Annie Rivera said when she heard the story.

Outside Sacramento’s international airport, Rivera, who lives in Sacramento said, “I hope it doesn’t happen with people on it or at an airport that I’m at.”

As people from the area fill in to pick up their loved ones, frequent flyer Carrie Boyajian said it “kind of worries me about the security of the airport.”

Worry about airport security seems to be a common reaction to the news of a plane at the Seattle-Tacoma airport was stolen by an employee, identified by police as Richard Russell.

The Horizon Air plane took off around 8 p.m. and started doing stunts before crashing onto an island - killing Russell.

“The most inconvenience I feel is: that poor person, his family his loved ones,” said Taryn Joe.

Experts say the probability of an airline employee pulling off an act like what happened Friday night, is something highly unlikely.

“I was naturally surprised that an employee could access an aircraft or an employee that isn’t a pilot could do something with the aircraft,” said Jeff Price, professor of aviation and author. “It’s so low on the threat matrix, it’s not something the industry has paid a whole lot of attention to.”

Price is an aviation security expert and he says that airport employees go through rigorous background checks and random inspections in order to be able to work with airplanes.

“But none of those processes are designed to catch someone who has legal access to the ramp with their badge but bad intentions,” said Price.

For frequent flyers like Annie Rivera say, “it can happen anywhere.”

She hopes changes are made so something like this doesn’t happen again.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the man who crashed the plane was suicidal.

They say no one else was hurt.

Federal agencies out of Seattle are currently investigating the incident.