Pilot, murder suspect Brian Hedglin tries to steal plane, commits suicide

    7:56 AM, Jul 18, 2012   |    comments
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    UNDATED (CBS) -- A bizarre incident in Utah Tuesday, where a SkyWest airline pilot suspected of murder commandeered a plane. But the fugitive's attempted escape came to an abrupt end.

    There was the trail of damage early Tuesday morning at the St. George Utah airport after SkyWest Airline pilot Brian Hedglin stole a 50-seat commuter jet and then rammed it into a parking lot. There is a clipped wing, a damaged jetway, and a downed airport fence.

    Capt. James VanFleet with the St. George Police Department says, "It was a short window between about 12:50 AM and right about 1 AM when the whole incident started and ended in that time period..."

    Police officials say an officer patrolling around the St. George Airport first noticed something was wrong when he spotted an abandoned motorcycle with the engine still warm. A rug had been tossed over the razor wire atop a perimeter fence.

    Police say Hedglin apparently had scaled the fence, found his way onto the aircraft, and started the engines. As the plane began to move its left wing clipped the jetway and the terminal then rolled through the fence and into some parked cars.

    VanFleet says, "At that point, other officers had arrived. They entered the plane and found a 40-year-old male, Mr. Hedglin was deceased in the plane for an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound."

    Hedglin had been on the run since last Friday when police discovered his ex-girlfriend murdered in his Colorado Springs apartment. Police quickly put out wanted posters with Hedglin's picture. SkyWest Arilines promptly suspended him and revoked his security cards.

    But, that did not stop Hedglin from finding his way to Southwestern Utah and commandeering the plane.

    The incident could force government officials to take a new look at airport security. While the Transportation Security Administration has to approve ALL airport security plans...the airports are responsible for policing the perimeters.

    But, the kind of incident, which played out in Saint George, Utah involving a trained pilot, may be especially hard to prevent. Former NTSB chairman Mark Rosenker says, "Commercial aircraft are not locked up. A pilot that's rated in the aircraft can get on-board, get in the cockpit, power up the aircraft and be able to fly it single handedly should he need to."

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