FBI recovers flight recorder, Richard Russell's remains from stolen plane crash site

The FBI has recovered the flight data recorder and components of the cockpit voice recorder from the Horizon aircraft that crashed onto Ketron Island Friday night.

The black boxes are now being sent to the National Transportation Safety Board for processing.

While searching the crash site, investigators also located human remains among the aircraft materials. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office has confirmed the remains belong to Richard Russell, who took the empty Horizon Air turboprop plane from Sea-Tac Airport.

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The black boxes will hopefully give investigators more clues as they try to figure out why Russell flew the plane into the ground.

KIRO 7 spoke with Russell’s friend and former co-worker Robert Reeves who said Russell was a hard worker who loved aviation, but he admits Russell was unhappy with his pay.

"He was getting really stressed about the financial situation he was in. He's worked at Horizon longer than I did, and he still wasn't making $15 an hour,” Reeves said.

Reeves said he left Horizon because workers are overworked and underpaid.

“The reason I left is in February of 2016 they were short staffed and they had me run three planes in the same time,” Reeves said. “That's just not safe."

Russell echoed those claims in his last conversation with air traffic control.

“Minimum wage, we'll chalk it up to that. Maybe that will grease some gears with the higher up,” Russell said to air traffic controllers.

Horizon's parent company, Alaska Airlines, refused to comment on claims of workers being overworked or underpaid.