Teen OK after riding in wheel well of Hawaii jet
HONOLULU — Officials say a 16-year-old boy is “lucky to be alive” and unharmed after flying from California to Hawaii stowed away in a plane's wheel well, surviving cold temperatures at 38,000 feet and a lack of oxygen.
“Doesn't even remember the flight,” FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu told The Associated Press on Sunday night. “It's amazing he survived that.”
The boy was questioned by the FBI after being discovered on the tarmac at the Maui airport Sunday morning with no identification, Simon said.
“Kid's lucky to be alive,” Simon said.
Simon said security footage from the San Jose airport verified that the boy from Santa Clara, Calif., hopped a fence to get to Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 on Sunday morning. The child had run away from his family after an argument, Simon said. Simon said when the Boeing 767 landed in Maui, the boy hopped down from the wheel well and started wandering around the airport grounds.
“He was unconscious for the lion's share of the flight,” Simon said. The flight lasted about 5½ hours.
Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said airline personnel noticed the boy on the ramp after the flight arrived and immediately notified airport security.
“Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived,” Croyle said.
A photo taken by a Maui News photographer shows the boy sitting upright on a stretcher as authorities get ready to load him into an ambulance.
Simon said the boy was medically screened and found to be unharmed.
His misadventure immediately raised security questions. A Congressman who serves on the Homeland Security committee wondered how the teen could have snuck onto the airfield at San Jose unnoticed.
“I have long been concerned about security at our airport perimeters. (hash)Stowaway teen demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed,” tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who represents the San Francisco Bay Area's eastern cities and suburbs.
A Mineta San Jose International Airport spokeswoman said airport police were working with the FBI and the Transportation Security Agency to review security at the facility as part of an investigation.
“Our concern is with this young boy and his family. Thank God he survived and we hope his health is OK,” spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said.
Officials at Kahului Airport referred questions to the State Department of Transportation, which did not return a phone call seeking comment. A Transportation Security Agency spokesman who declined to be named referred questions to the FBI and airport authorities.
The boy was released to child protective services and not charged with a crime, Simon said.
In August, a 13- or 14-year-old boy in Nigeria survived a 35-minute trip in the wheel well of a domestic flight after stowing away. Authorities credited the flight's short duration and altitude of about 25,000. Others stowing away in wheel wells have died, including a 16-year-old killed after stowing away aboard a flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Boston in 2010 and a man who fell onto a suburban London street as a flight from Angola began its descent in 2012.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Report: DEA prostitutes paid by cartel
- $140M Picasso likely to set auction record
- Tractor-trailer hits construction beams over Interstate 35 in Texas
- Bergdahl, speaking for 1st time, claims 12 attempts to flee Taliban
- Feds arrest guardsman, cousin for terror plot on military facility
- House OKs overhaul of Medicare, keeps kids insurer
- Jackson Jr. leaves prison for halfway house
- Indiana governor defends religious objections bill signed into law
- Global warming is slowing down the circulation of the oceans — with potentially dire consequences
- Watchdog: Policy over visas broke, but not law
- Special operations troops are denied commercial intelligence analysis software for missions