Thursday, May 24, 2018

Teen survives 5-hour flight in jet's wheel well

A teenager who stowed away on a flight from San Jose to Hawaii and miraculously survived did not know where the plane was headed when he climbed aboard, FBI officials said Monday.

The 16-year-old had run away from home when he climbed a fence at San Jose's Mineta International Airport on Sunday morning and crawled into the left rear wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45.

"He was not planning on going to Hawaii," said FBI Honolulu spokesman Tom Simon. "He just got on a plane."

Authorities were amazed that the teen survived the 5 1/2-hour flight. The wheel well of the Boeing 767 is not pressurized or heated, meaning the teen endured extremely thin air and temperatures as low 80 degrees below zero when it cruised at 38,000 feet. "How he survived, I don't know," Simon said.

The boy probably was unconscious for most of the flight. "I imagine he must have blacked out at about 10,000 feet," Simon said.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane's steady climb to high altitudes may allow a person to drift into unconsciousness as oxygen becomes scarce. And as the heat dissipates from the wheel well, a stowaway can develop hypothermia, a condition that preserves the central nervous system. Both hypoxia and hypothermia may resolve as the plane descends for landing, the FAA said.

Security video shows the teen from Santa Clara hopping a fence at the San Jose airport and climbing into the wheel well of the jetliner. The plane landed at Maui's Kahului Airport at 10:30 a.m. local time on Sunday, but Simon said the teen did not regain consciousness for an hour. Once he woke up, he hopped down to the tarmac. Hawaiian Airlines personnel noticed the teen on a ramp and notified security.

He cleared a medical checkup and was handed over to officials from the Hawaii Department of Human Services. Officials did not release his name because he is a minor.

He "doesn't even remember the flight," Simon, the FBI spokesman, said.

Rosemary Barnes, a spokeswoman at the San Jose airport, said the FBI and Transportation Security Administration are investigating how the teen breached security. The airport has video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding police officers.

It's not the first time a stowaway has survived a flight in the wheel well of an aircraft.

In August 2013, a teenage boy from Nigeria endured a 35-minute trip in the wheel well of a domestic flight that landed in Lagos. Officials credited the trip's short flight time and relatively low altitude with helping him survive.

On another occasion, a stowaway managed to survive a flight from Havana to Madrid, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

But in 2012, the body of a 26-year-old stowaway was found crumpled on a suburban London street. Officials believe he had climbed aboard a British Airways plane in Angola and was either dead or near death as he fell from the wheel well during the plane's descent into Heathrow Airport.

Contributing: Associated Press

Comments
Sunset Music Festival, more outdoor concerts could be soaked by weekend rain

Sunset Music Festival, more outdoor concerts could be soaked by weekend rain

Your Memorial Day weekend weather forecast is not looking good, with a big low pressure system, Invest 97L, hovering out in the Gulf of Mexico and threatening to dump several inches of water on Saturday.For music fans, it couldn't be coming at a wors...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Mailers across Florida push Rubio, Nelson on ‘Dreamers’

Mailers across Florida push Rubio, Nelson on ‘Dreamers’

WASHINGTON – A Koch brother group is sending mailers across Florida asking Sens. Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson to support a permanent solution for Dreamers along with improvements to border security.The bumblebee yellow mail pieces continue a "se...
Updated: 10 minutes ago
Graham Rahal: Indy 500 could be one of the ‘trickiest races’ in years

Graham Rahal: Indy 500 could be one of the ‘trickiest races’ in years

ST. PETERSBURG — The increased competition in the IndyCar Series was on display during qualifying for Sunday's Indianapolis 500.Two fan favorites (Pippa Mann and 2013 Grand Prix of St. Petersburg winner James Hinchcliffe) couldn't crack th...
Updated: 11 minutes ago
Why is the Republican Governors’ Association obsessed with Gwen Graham?

Why is the Republican Governors’ Association obsessed with Gwen Graham?

If there is a candidate for Florida Governor that the Republican Governors Association doesn't seem to like, it's Gwen Graham.Nine of the association's latest news releases from Florida take aim at the the former Congresswoman, who is considered...
Updated: 11 minutes ago

Congo says Ebola cases have reached 30, warns against rumors

Congo's Ministry of Health says the number of confirmed Ebola cases has reached 30, including 8 deaths in the 3 affected health zones in the country's Equateur province
Updated: 1 hour ago
Australian sentenced to death in Malaysia drugs case

Australian sentenced to death in Malaysia drugs case

Australian woman accused of drug trafficking in Malaysia is sentenced to death after an appeals court overturned a lower court's acquittal
Updated: 1 hour ago

San Francisco 49ers buy stake in English soccer club Leeds

The San Francisco 49ers have taken a minority ownership stake in English soccer club Leeds
Updated: 1 hour ago

Cyclone Mekunu pounds Yemen island on its path to Oman

Yemeni island of Socotra pounded by Cyclone Mekunu, on a path to strike Oman this weekend
Updated: 1 hour ago
Lebanese president begins consultations to name new premier

Lebanese president begins consultations to name new premier

Lebanese president starts consultations with lawmakers on naming new premier, incumbent PM Hariri likely to keep post
Updated: 1 hour ago

AP Top News at 5:01 a.m. EDT

AP Top News at 5:01 a.m. EDT
Updated: 1 hour ago