Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Federal investigators say they have retrieved the flight recorders from the plane stolen and crashed by an airline employee at Seattle's airport, an incident that's stunned the man's family.
Richard Russell, a ground service agent for Horizon Air at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, took the plane Friday. Military jets chased him in the 76-seat Q400 turboprop plane for about an hour before it crashed on remote Ketron Island in Puget Sound.
The crash killed Russell and started a small brush fire on the heavily forested island.
The FBI's Seattle field office said Sunday the plane's "black boxes" were found and turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board.
The black boxes include the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, tapes frequently instrumental in helping investigators piece together aviation crashes.
The remains of a person presumed to be Russell were also found at the site.
Authorities aren't yet sure why Russell took off in the plane without warning and without authorization.
"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," the Russell family said in a statement.
Relatives say Russell, nicknamed "Beebo," was "a faithful husband, a loving son, and a good friend."
"Beebo's intent was not to harm anyone. He was right in saying that there are so many people who have loved him," the statement said.
Russell's co-workers at Horizon Air described him as likable and friendly. He'd been employed by Horizon, a subsidiary of Alaska Airlines, for more than three years.
Alaska Airlines CEO Bradley Tilden said Russell passed numerous criminal background checks and was authorized to be in the area of the airport the plane was parked.