Aviation experts call it a miracle.
The FBI says a 16-year-old boy stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from California to Hawaii, and survived. The boy is expected to fully recover.
Photo: Chris Sugidono, The Maui News
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 left San Jose at 7:50 a.m. this morning, and arrived on Maui at 10:31 p.m. five-and-a-half hours later.
The FBI says security video verifies the teen hopped a fence at the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport to get to the Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 aircraft this morning.
The teen, who is from Santa Clara, had run away from his family.
Aviation experts say the teen put himself at great risk.
Airlines analyst Peter Forman:
“The odds of a person surviving that long of a flight at that altitude are very remote, actually. I mean, you are talking about altitudes that are well above the altitude of Mt. Everest. And temperatures that can reach 40 degrees below zero. A lot of people would only have useful consciousness for a minute or two at that altitude. For somebody to survive multiple hours with that lack of oxygen and that cold is just miraculous. I’ve never heard of anything like that before.”
The boy told authorities he passed out as the plane ascended, then regained consciousness about an hour before landing.
Hawaiian Airlines says their workers at Kahului Airport noticed the teen on the ramp after the flight arrived and immediately notified airport security.
The FBI says he was dazed and confused, with no identification on him.
Hawaiian Airlines said in a statement:
“Our primary concern now is for the wellbeing of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived. Hawaiian and its contractors responsible for handling our aircraft in San Jose are ready to assist various government agencies in their investigation of this incident.”
The FBI says no federal charges will be filed against the teen.
He was taken to Maui Memorial Medical Center to get checked out, and he has been turned over to Child Protective Services.
Authorities are not releasing his name because he is a minor.