high school student
scott evans
April 24, 2014

Stowaway Causes Airport Scrutiny


Shelby: A California teenager traveled halfway across the Pacific, not in a passenger’s seat, but in the wheel well of an airplane. His stunt was not only dangerous, but it is raising new concerns about airport security. Scott Evans has the story.

Scott: A fifteen year old is lucky to be alive after hiding in a plane’s wheel well during a five-and-a-half hour flight from California to Hawaii on Sunday morning.

Marvin Moniz: He was weak. He hung from the wheel well and then he fell to the ground and regained some strength, and stood up and started walking to the front of the aircraft.

Scott: The FBI says the teen ran away from home then jumped a fence at the San Jose airport Sunday night and chose a plane at random.

According to the FAA, 105 people have stowed away inside a wheel well since 1947. The teen is one of only 25 survivors.

Jon Day: There’s almost no oxygen at 30,000 – 38,000 feet, freezing cold temperatures, 50 degrees below zero. It’s a miracle.

Scott: Now investigators are looking into how he was able to sneak in without being noticed. Surveillance video from the San Jose International Airport reveals the teen was inside the airport perimeter for at least six hours, according to an official familiar with the investigation.

Mark Rosenker: Something broke down here. Maybe we need to be spending more time looking at the outside of our airports and the perimeters of those airports given the fact that we’ve seen a successful breach.

Scott: These types of security breaches aren’t rare. In 2012, a Philadelphia driver crashed through a gate onto an active runway. A similar incident occurred that same year at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix. And last Christmas Day, a man climbed a fence at the same airport and ran across the tarmac.

A congressional report revealed that during the decade immediately after 9/11, the nation’s airports investigated nearly 1,400 perimeter breaches.

Rosenker: Each of these airports have their own geographical features that are unique and have to be looked at to make sure that the breaches cannot be done.

Scott: The Transportation Security Administration has spent a reported $80 billion on security in the decade following the 9/11 attacks, when terrorists were able to hijack planes after making it through airport security checks. But none of that money has been spent on upgrading security around airport perimeters. The area around the outside of airports is the responsibility of local police.

Authorities say they are not planning to arrest the teenager, who lives with his father in California. He told investigators he was trying to get to his mother who lives in Somalia, Africa.

Scott Evans, Channel One News.

Shelby: The teen has no serious injuries and is recovering in a Hawaiian hospital.


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