On July 17, 2012, SkyWest pilot Brian Hedglin, 40, scaled the airport fence and stole a 50-seat Canadair regional jet from the St. George Municipal Airport, St. George, Utah. He boarded the aircraft unnoticed, started its engines, and proceeded to crash his way toward a nearby parking lot, losing part of a wing on the way, knocking down the airport fence, and crushing a dozen or so cars (among other damage).
Once in the parking lot, Hedglin, a former special forces soldier [see note below], moved to the back of the aircraft and killed himself with a pistol he had brought for the occasion. Hedglin had been wanted by law enforcement as the prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend.
The surveillance footage shown in this video was released in the wake of the crime, but much more footage exists that has never been seen.
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Note: It is unclear whether Hedglin was ever confirmed to have served in a special forces unit. The narrative excerpted below quotes a “Sgt. Cowan” with definitiveness, however a later narrative appears to indicate that Cowan may have been speculating. I will look into this further.
The following is excerpted from one of the many written statements in the case file:
“On 1/17 I was called out as part of the Bomb Squad to 4550 South Airport Parkway. Sgt. Cowan related to me that there was a deceased male inside the plane. Sgt. Cowan had concerns about the deceased male. Sgt. Cowan feared that the male subject had connections to the military and was a “Special Forces” pilot, and the subject was a recent suspect in a homicide in Colorado. Because of the Special Forces experience and possible homicide connection. Sgt. Cowan had concern the subject might have booby trapped the plane.
Capt. Whipple met with those who are in charge of the incident and they asked that the bomb squad go into the plane and search the plane for any suspect devices or booby traps that could have been laid by the suspect.
Deputy Bowling and I suited up in our search suits to make entry into the airplane and to search for suspect devices. I searched the outside of the plane looking through the windows inside. I was able to get a good look of the inside of the plane through the windows but there were areas that could not be seen from outside the plane. I had to make entry into the plane to do a more detailed search at that time.
Deputy Bowling was assigned to search the cockpit area and I would search from the door to the rear of the plane. As I searched the seating areas and overhead bins I located a spent bullet that was deformed lying on the ground. The bullet was left there for the detectives to photograph and recover. I was able to carefully make my way to the rear restroom of the airplane. I did not come across any suspect devices, booby traps or anything that would cause alarm or pose a danger to the investigators that would later come into the plane.
As I approached the subject that was on the ground, I observed a male who had what appeared to be a gunshot wound to his head. The closer I got closer to the subject I began to see parts of bone, blood and gray matter on the seats and wall of the plane. The subject had 5.11 style pants with a 5.11 military/law enforcement style training shirt. I observed a black H&K semi-auto pistol by the legs of the subject. I did not touch or search the body as I made my way past the subject as he laid on the floor between the seats in the walkway.”
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