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9-year-old runaway boards plane at Minneapolis airport without ticket

| Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013, 6:00 p.m.

MINNEAPOLIS — A 9-year-old Minneapolis runaway went through security and boarded a plane at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport without a ticket, an airport spokesman said on Sunday.

Security officials screened the boy at the airport shortly after 10:30 a.m. Thursday when he arrived via light rail, Metropolitan Airports Commission spokesman Patrick Hogan said. The boy boarded a Delta flight that left for Las Vegas at 11:15 a.m.

The flight was not full, Hogan said, and the flight crew became suspicious midflight because the boy was not on a list of unattended minors. The crew contacted Las Vegas police, who met them upon landing and transferred the boy to child protection services, Hogan said.

“It's hard to piece anything together from his stories why he got on the flight and went to Las Vegas,” Hogan said.

Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer said officers talked to the family once Las Vegas police contacted them. A family member told police the boy ran away and was last seen earlier Thursday.

The boy had been at the airport on Wednesday as well, Hogan said. Video shows him grabbing a bag from the carousel and ordering lunch at a restaurant outside of the security checkpoints. He ate and then told the server he had to use the bathroom, Hogan said, left the bag and never returned to pay. Airport officials returned the bag to its owner.

Delta and the Transportation Security Administration said in separate statements that they were investigating.

The Hennepin County Child Protection Services is investigating, Palmer said. County spokeswoman Carolyn Marinan said she couldn't confirm or deny their involvement because the case involves a juvenile and data privacy issues.

The boy was expected to return to the Twin Cities, but Hogan didn't know Sunday if that had happened yet.

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