By Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
Aug 12, 2018
Family members of the man who stole an empty Horizon Air plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport late Friday and then died when he crashed the plane on a remote island said they were “stunned and heartbroken” and “devastated by the events.”
The statement also referenced the audio recordings of Russell speaking with air traffic control members, noting that his "intent was not to harm anyone. He was right in saying that there are so many people who have loved him.
⧫ In a YouTube video credited to Russell last year, he spoke about his job and included videos and photos of his travels. He also talked about the mundane part of his job.
"I lift a lot of bags. Like a lot of bags. So many bags," he said on the video.
⧫ Russell graduated from Wasilla High School in 2008. He had a standout career as a running back, wrestler and track and field athlete, the Anchorage Daily News reported. During his senior year he placed fourth at the Alaska state wrestling tournament, fifth in the discus at the state track and field championships, and ran for six touchdowns as a fullback for the football team, the Daily News reported.
"Absolutely the kind of kid you want on your team," Gary Howell, Wasilla High’s track and field coach, told the newspaper.
Wasilla wrestling coach Shawn Hayes said Russell was "a good kid who worked hard" while a member of his team.
"He was always respectful, no signs of what happened, that's for sure," Hayes told the Daily News.
⧫ According to the state of Washington marriage index, Russell was married in Pierce County on Jan. 14, 2012, to Hannah Stracener. They met at a Campus Crusade for Christ gathering at Southwestern Oregon Community College in 2011, according to The World of Coos Bay, Oregon.
⧫ Russell was qualified to tow aircraft, Gary Beck, Horizon Air's CEO, told CNN.
⧫ According to Brad Tilden, the CEO of Alaska Air Group, Russell had credentials to be in secure areas at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
⧫ Russell did not have any criminal convictions and passed several background checks, CNN reported.