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AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
World News

Family of man who crashed stolen plane: without Jesus we would be hopeless

Richard Russell took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in a 76-seater Horizon Air Q400 which he used to perform dangerous manoeuvres before the aircraft came down in Puget Sound.

His family said in a statement read to reporters: "This is a complete shock to us.

"We are devastated by these events and Jesus is truly the only one holding this family together right now; without him, we would be hopeless."

Two F-15C military jets were dispatched to pursue the plane during its 75-minute flight but authorities say they did not open fire.

Courtney Junka via AP

A recording has emerged of an air traffic controller trying to convince Mr Russell to land the plane.

It captured him later saying: "I've got a lot of people that care about me.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

"It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this... Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess."

Mr Russell, whose nickname was Beebo, had worked for three-and-a-half years at Horizon Air - a subsidary of Alaska Air.

Bettina Hansen/The Seattle Times via AP

Officials say that, as a ground service agent, he had clearance to be among aircraft.

According to the CEO of Horizon Air, Gary Beck, it is not clear how Mr Russell knew how to start the engine.

The family's statement described Mr Russell as a "faithful husband, loving son and good friend".

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