Teen stowaway lucky to be alive after hiding in plane's wheel well
Monday, April 21, 2014, 10:41 -
This could have ended badly.
When a 16-year-old California boy crawled into the wheel well of a flight bound for Hawai'i, he began a five-and-a-half hour ordeal of frigid temperatures and low oxygen levels - but not only did he survive, authorities say he is mostly unharmed.
"Doesn't even remember the flight," FBI spokesman Tom Simon in Honolulu told the Associated Press. "It's amazing he survived that."
It sounds too incredible to be true, but airport security footage in San Jose confirms the boy hopped a fence to get to the Hawaiian Airlines flight Sunday morning, after running away from home following an argument with his family.
After spending most of the flight unconscious, he hopped down from the wheel well after landing, and wandered around the tarmac until airport workers spotted him.
He's in the custody of child protective services, and hasn't been charged with a crime - although California lawmakers are questioning how he managed to completely bypass airport security.
The ordeal could easily have ended in death for the teenager, as most wheel well stowaway stories do.
In 2010, a 16-year-old died after stowing away in similar circumstances on a flight from South Carolina to Boston, and in 2012, a man fell onto a street in London, U.K., as a plane from Angola began its descent.