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Teen OK after riding in wheel well of Hawaii jet

Teen Survives California-Hawaii Flight In Plane's Wheel Well

HONOLULU (AP) - 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. #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.

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sammy_evans4 April 21 2014 at 8:20 AM

Wow! Anyone could have did the same thing and left a bomb in the wheel, that's not good.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
darbar April 21 2014 at 3:09 PM

The real problem isn't the boy. The real problem is how the heck he was able to get onto the tarmac at the California airport without being noticed. Where is this supposed security that we, the taxpayers, are paying millions of dollars for? If a 16 year old kid can do this, then a well trained terrorist can do things even better, and more dangerous.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
teeveequeen April 21 2014 at 1:06 PM

the boy was NOT charged with a crime???

I guess the airport is hoping NOT for a law$uit from the parents ...

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
midenham teeveequeen April 21 2014 at 1:29 PM

Freakin kid committed a crime. Quit blaming others for liberal's lousy parenting.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
aevf101 April 21 2014 at 8:48 AM

Any determined individual can thwart most secruity plans and protocols. Homeland Security, TSA, et all, are nothing but a" feel good" blanket for the masses and makes the politicians look like they' re doing something.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
lochadro April 21 2014 at 8:48 AM

Amazing....the oxygen levels and temperatures are not consistent with human needs for life. He either had an amazing physical makeup or started with such a dearth of brain cells that no difference was noticable at the conclusion of the flight. 5.5 hours, most of which was at temperatures of -57F OAT....I wonder if the wheel well has some better environment than that which exists outside the aircraft?

Flag Reply +3 rate up
murcielago8898 April 21 2014 at 8:48 AM

The truly pathetic security system is only in place to make passengers imagine they are safe. Imagine, Imagine, Imagine.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
amikebec April 21 2014 at 10:16 AM

People are so stupid. Oh, not the kid, granted his stunt was dangerous and he could have died, but, he is a kid... most likely got the idea watching some tv show.... No, I meant the stupid comments on this story....!!!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
Kenny April 21 2014 at 3:09 PM

this is part of the "friends Fly Free Program"

Flag Reply +3 rate up
davidhken April 21 2014 at 10:14 AM

The TSA puts on a great show at the security checkpoints but it is mostly for naught. We need real security using profiles etc. rather than creating delays for everyone at our airports. If this teenager can get on a plane undetected I'm quite certain it would be just as easy for a terrorist.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
majorg1000 davidhken April 21 2014 at 10:29 AM

The amazing thing is, that many Americans believe that security against terrorists should be fool proof, and we should maintain a large military, yet they shouldn't be taxed for it, or somehow bear responsibility for failure of Leadership and programs when they underfund it. Either we are going to maintain our freedoms and acquire some risk, or we are going to have Big Brother stand a constant vigil over us.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Window Savers April 21 2014 at 1:10 PM

Where's the TSA on this?? Oh wait, they're looking up grandmas skirt.

Flag Reply +12 rate up
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