Worker who stole Horizon Air turboprop identified

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SEA-TAC AIRPORT, Wash. – ABC News reports the name of the 29-year-old man who died in the fiery crash of the Horizon Air turboprop is Richard Russell from Pierce County. However, Alaska Airlines has yet to confirm his identity.

Russell stole the Bombardier Q400 plane at Sea-Tac Airport Friday night then crashed on Ketron Island about an hour later, investigators said.

Saturday night, Russell’s family called him a faithful husband, loving son and good friend.

In a statement, they called Russell, whose nickname was “Beebo,” warm, kind and gentle. They say says this is a complete shock.

WATCH: Family of Richard Russell, the 29-year-old man who stole a Horizon Air plane and crashed, speaks out in a heartbreaking interview for the first time.

Russell worked for Horizon Air for three and a half years, handling the baggage, cleaning the plane, and was ‘tow certified,’ allowing him to run the little tractors that pull the planes. He went through a 10-year background check to get the job.

One of his former coworkers, Michael West, said there was never any indication or talk of him wanting to do this.

“He was your normal guy, he was quiet, he liked books, joking around. I can’t think of anything bad to say about him, he was just a great guy,” West said.

West did say that in that role on the tow team, there’s access to the cockpit, training on the radio and the ability to move the airplane.

RELATED: FBI investigating how employee could steal Horizon Air plane

RELATED: Employee who stole turboprop had security clearance

RELATED: Air traffic controllers tried to talk pilot down

WATCH: Drama in the skies over Puget Sound

WATCH: Daytime aerial photos of the crash scene:

Alaska airlines is working with the Federal Aviation Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Transportation Safety Board to find out exactly what happened that Friday night. So far, only Russell was aboard the airplane, an employee of Horizon Air, who was operating the aircraft.

“I want to thank the employees of Horizon Air and our guests,” said Gary Beck, President and CEO of Horizon Air. “Our primary objective is to do everything possible to support all of you.”

WATCH: 11 a.m. news briefing

FBI and National Transportation Safety Board investigators plan Saturday to visit the crash site of a stolen Horizon Air passenger plane on Ketron Island near Steilacoom.

Horizon Air said a ground services employee boarded the plane at about 7:30 p.m. Friday night and took off from Sea-Tac Airport. No passengers were on the plane.

Two F-15 jets were scrambled from the 142nd fighter squadron in Portland. As those jets closed on the Horizon turboprop about an hour into the flight, it nose dived and crashed.

Investigators will be looking for the cockpit voice recorder and the data recorder from the plane hoping they will provide new clues about the incident.

“We already have the air traffic and pilot communications, but he might have been talking to himself in the cockpit and they might be able to get some additional information so that’s where that’s valuable,” said NTSB Regional Chief Debra Eckrote.

WATCH: 8:40 a.m. briefing by NTSB Regional Chief Debra Eckrote:

Eckrote said crews will try to recover the body of the pilot. Investigators will also be looking into how an employee could steal a plane and manage to take off at a major airport.

The plane flew very erratically. At one point, the plane turned upside down and dove toward Puget Sound as horrified witnesses watched from the ground. The plane pulled up just above the water.

WATCH: Horizon Air plane goes upside down over Puget Sound

Air traffic controllers were in contact with the pilot during his flight. At times, he sounded distraught.

Pilot: “…just a broken guy. A few screws loose…just now realizing it.”

At one point, controllers tried to convince him to land the plane at the McChord runway at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Controller: “There is the runway just off to your right side in about a mile. Do you seen that? That’s the McChord field.”

Pilot: “Oh man, those guys will rough me up if I tried landing there. I think I might mess something up there, too. I wouldn’t want to do that. They probably got anti-aircraft!”

Controller: “Nah, they don’t have any of that stuff. We’re just trying to find a place for you to land safely.”

Pilot: “Yeah, I’m not quite ready to bring it down just yet. Holy smokes! I gotta quit looking at the fuel ’cause it’s going down quick.”

Controller: “If you could, could you start a left hand turn? And we’ll take you down to the southeast please.”

Pilot: “This is probably jail time for life, huh? I would hope it is for a guy like me.”

LISTEN: Air Traffic Control speaks to pilot

WATCH: Witness Brenda Leech describes what she and her family saw from their home in Steilacoom, Wash.

Sea-Tac Airport was shut down during the incident delaying dozens of flights, some for several hours. Operations resumed following the crash.

WATCH: *** VIDEO WARNING**** Explicit language

WATCH: Statement from Horizon Air Chief Operating Officer Constance von Muehlen

Alaska Airlines said the plane involved in the incident is a Bombardier Q400.

That plane is 107 feet nine inches long with a wingspan of 93 feet three inches and a cruising altitude of 25,000 feet. It normally contains 76 seats.

The Q400 has a cruising speed of 414 miles per hour and a crew of two pilots and two flight attendants.

The FBI said it is working with state, local and federal partners to figure out what happened. They did say this was not considered a terrorist threat.

WATCH: KOMO News Breaking News coverage of stolen Horizon Air plane and crash:

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