SALT LAKE CITY – A SkyWest Airlines employee wanted in a Colorado murder attempted to steal a passenger plane from a small southern Utah airport then shot himself in the head after crashing the aircraft in a nearby parking lot, officials said Tuesday.
Brian Hedglin, 40, scaled a razor wire fence at the St. George Municipal Airport early Tuesday then boarded the 50-passenger SkyWest jet while the airport was closed, St. George city spokesman Marc Mortenson said.
Mortenson said the man used a rug to scale the airport's security fence in the middle of the night, drove the plane past a terminal building, clipping the wing, then crashed into cars in an airport parking lot. The plane never left the ground.
A police officer making rounds found the plane idling, boarded it and found Hedglin dead with a gunshot wound to his head, Mortenson said.
Hedglin was wanted in connection with the death of Christina Cornejo, 39, in Colorado Springs. Her body was found Friday by police doing a welfare check at the request of her family. Her death has been ruled a homicide.
The Gazette of Colorado Springs, citing court records, reported that Hedglin dated Cornejo for four years and was arrested in March after police say he had been harassing her. The newspaper said he was free on $10,000 bond when Cornejo was found dead.
The Utah airport remained closed to commercial traffic as the FBI and the Transportation Security Administration investigated the incident.
Skywest officials said there were no passengers aboard the CRJ200 and the plane was not in service at the time.
In a statement, the airline would say only that the incident involved one of its employees who had been on administrative leave.
A dozen flights leave or arrive at the St. George airport each weekday, according to the airport's website. Most run between southern Utah and Salt Lake City, with two flights connecting St. George and Los Angeles.
Skywest said its passengers are having their itineraries rearranged.
The CRJ200 made by Bombardier is capable of flying up to 534 mph with a range of 1,700 miles. Normally it has a two-person flight crew and a single flight attendant.