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A 16-year-old boy from California hopped a fence at the San Jose Airport and snuck into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight, stowing away for a five-hour flight, FBI spokesman Tom Simon told ABC News.
Simon said the boy – who ran away from home – passed out inside the unprotected, unpressurized wheel well once the flight got in the air. When the flight landed at Maui Airport at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, the boy was still passed out, Simon said. He did not come to for about an hour.
Ground crews later saw the boy walking around the tarmac, Simon said. He was taken into custody and checked by a doctor and found to have no injuries.
News of the incident was met with suspicion and scrutiny. Most wheel-well stowaways don’t survive, falling victim to frigid temperatures and lack of oxygen. According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, the chances of survival of a wheel-well stowaway on a commercial aircraft are about 24 percent.
ABC News aviation consultant John Nance is skeptical that the teen could have survived the 2,300 mile flight in the wheel well without an oxygen source.
“This is a first in medical science and a first in physiology,” Nance said. “I just don’t believe it.”
Alison Croyle, a spokeswoman for Hawaiian Airlines, released a statement, writing, “Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived.”
The boy has not been charged with any federal crimes in Hawaii, Simon said. He’s been turned over to Hawaiian child protective services.