The Californian teen, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, made a journey in the wheel of a plane flying from one state to another on Sunday, surviving the trip halfway across the Pacific Ocean unharmed despite frigid temperatures at 38,000 feet and a lack of oxygen, FBI and airline officials confirmed.
“Doesn’t even remember the flight,” FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu told reporters soon after the incident. “It’s amazing he survived that.”
The teen was later questioned by the police after he had been discovered on the tarmac at the Maui airport Sunday morning with no identification, Simon said. “Kid’s lucky to be alive,” Simon said.
The FBI spokesman added that security footage from the San Jose airport confirms that the teen hopped a fence to get to Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 on Sunday morning.
The 16-year-old had run away from his family afterhe had some clashes with his parents, Simon said.He went on, adding that 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 teen in the wheel only 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. Simon mentioned that the 16-year-old was medically screened and found to be unharmed. “Doesn’t even remember the flight,” Simon said. “It’s amazing he survived that.”
The teen’s dangerous adventure immediately caused numerous security questions. Thus, a Congressman who serves on the Homeland Security committee wanted to know 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 revealed to reporters that 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.
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,” reminds of the incident ABC News.
“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.”