Family, friends remember former Wasilla man who stole commercial airplane
Airline employee Richard Russell died after he took a commercial plane at the Sea-Tac Airport without permission and crashed it on an island in Puget Sound Friday night.
"Going to try and do a barrel roll, and if that goes good, going to go nose down, call it a night," said Richard Russell as he talked with air traffic controllers at Seattle's SeaTac International Airport.
He also expressed some remorse after he stole a Horizon Air passenger plane Friday.
"I got a lot of people who care about me, it's going to disappoint them that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them," said Russell.
Known to family and friends as "Beebo," Russell died when the plane crashed on a sparsely populated island in the Puget Sound.
"We are stunned and heartbroken," said family spokesman Mike Matthews, as he read a statement released by the Russell Family Saturday in Seattle.
"It may seem hard to those watching at home to believe, but, Beebo was a warm and compassionate man," the family said in part of the statement.
"I'm really at a loss for words about what to say exactly, now that I kind of know what happened, I'm at a loss for words, it just doesn't even make sense," said Gary Howell, who coached Russell at Wasilla High School, where he played football, wrestling and track before graduation in 2008.
"Beebo was an outstanding young man, just, the All-American kid, everybody wants to coach, everyone wants to be around," recalled Howell.
Family, friends and investigators want to know the answer to one big question: what caused someone considered by classmates to the be "class clown" to steal a commercial airplane and take his own life?
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