SALT LAKE CITY – A SkyWest Airlines pilot suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend stole an empty 50-passenger jet from a small Utah airport, crashed it as he drove near a terminal, then was found dead with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, officials said Tuesday.
Brian Hedglin, 40, used a rug to scale the razor wire-topped security fence at the St. George Municipal Airport overnight Tuesday and drove off with the SkyWest jet, St. George city spokesman Marc Mortenson said.
Hedglin clipped a wing on the terminal building and crashed into cars in a parking lot, Mortenson said. The plane never left the ground.
A police officer making rounds around 12:50 a.m. found a motorcycle with the engine running outside the fence. As he searched the grounds for the owner, the officer came upon the idling plane and called SkyWest, Mortenson said. The airline sent an employee to turn off the engine, he said. Inside, Hedglin was found with a gunshot wound to his head.
It wasn’t clear how Hedglin, a certified pilot, was able to access the plane. Mortenson said the airport is surrounded by six miles of perimeter fencing. He noted the facility meets all Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration requirements.
SkyWest has not said whether Hedglin flew for the airline, but authorities said he was a pilot for the airline. Federal aviation records show he was rated to fly commercial planes. Hedglin also held a flight instructor rating for single-engine planes that was issued in 1998, but it expired in February 2000. In a statement, the airline said the incident involved an employee on administrative leave.
Hedglin was also a member of the Colorado National Guard, where he was a part-time soldier who worked as a cook. He was never deployed, Capt. Darin Overstreet said.
Hedglin was wanted in the stabbing death of Christina Cornejo, 39, in Colorado Springs, Colo. Her body was found Friday by police doing a welfare check at the request of her family. 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.