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Teen stowaway spent hours undetected at California airport

Teen stowaway spent hours undetected at California airport

HIGH FLYING:A 16-year-old boy is carried on a stretcher in Maui, Hawaii, April 20, as seen in this handout photo courtesy of Chris Sugidono,The Maui News. Photo: Reuters/Chris Sugidono/The Maui News

(Reuters) – A teenage stowaway spent up to six hours undetected at a San Jose airport before climbing into the wheel well of a jetliner that took him to Hawaii, the Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

The 15-year-old boy from Santa Clara, California, whose name has not been released, has made headlines by becoming one of a fraction of stowaways to survive such a treacherous trip and his journey has raised security concerns.

A federal law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that the boy appears to have scaled a security fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport just after 1 a.m. on Sunday and spent up to six hours undetected before climbing into the wheel well of a Boeing 767, the paper reported.

The Hawaiian Airlines flight with the teen stowed away in its wheel well took off at 7:55 a.m. Pacific Time and landed at Kahului Airport in Maui just over 5 and a half hours later, airline spokeswoman Alison Croyle said in an email. Authorities have not said in which wheel well he hid.

San Jose airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes could not say how long the teen might have spent at the facility nor where he hid. No surveillance footage exists of the boy climbing over a security fence at the airport, she said.

There is footage of an unidentified person walking on an airport ramp in the dark and approaching the Hawaiian Airlines plane, she said.

The Transportation Security Administration has deemed the video sensitive security information and prohibited airport officials from releasing it or giving details such as when it was taken, Barnes said.

A TSA representative could not be reached for comment.

The flight with the teen hiding in the wheel well reached an altitude of 38,000 feet and temperatures as low as minus 80 degrees Fahrenheit (62 degrees Celsius below zero), causing the teen to pass out, the FBI has said.

The boy was hospitalized in Hawaii and was “resting comfortably,” Kayla Rosenfeld, spokeswoman of the state’s Department of Human Services, said in a statement on Tuesday. There was no update on his condition as of Wednesday morning.

The boy’s survival is unusual.

Since 1947, 105 people worldwide have been found to have stowed away on flights and 80 of them died, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. That represents a survival rate of less than 24 percent. The last known stowaway to walk away from such an ordeal was in 2013 on a domestic flight in Nigeria.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Dan Grebler)

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