Teen Stowaway Miraculously Survives In Plane's Wheel Well; Airport Security Questions Raised
A 16-year-old boy climbed up in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 at the San Jose Airport that was headed to Maui, Hawaii, and improbably survived.
Teen Stowaway Survives Flight To Hawaii
The teenager, carrying nothing but a comb, managed to break through the airport’s perimeter, walk through the grounds unnoticed and choose the very small region of the wheel well in which he wouldn’t be crushed. It was all guesswork.
Space wasn’t the only issue the unidentified boy faced. He also had to somehow survive the temperatures – roughly 80 degrees below zero – outside the plane from which he’d have very little protection. "Those are astronomically low temperatures to survive," trauma surgeon Dr. Kenneth Stahl told CNN. “He was essentially in a state of suspended animation. No adult would have survived that.”
The boy revealed to authorities that he lost consciousness early on in the flight and didn’t wake up for some time after the plane landed. Stahl believes it’s more than likely he’ll suffer some long-term effects, including the possibility of memory loss or some other neurological issues. Furthermore, if he suffered frostbite, he could have some kidney trouble.
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"The boy is lucky to be alive," FBI Special Agent Tom Simon in Honolulu told the San Francisco Chronicle."I can't imagine anybody surviving that type of flight."
The teen will not face any criminal charges.
Airport Perimeter Security Concerns
Since the boy was able to relatively easily bypass security measures, it has people wondering just how secure airport perimeters are and if the manpower on the ground on the runways and tarmac is sufficient.
"I have long been concerned about security at our airport perimeters," state Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted. "#Stowaway teen demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed."
I have long been concerned about security at our airport perimeters. #Stowaway teen demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.
— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) April 21, 2014
"No system is 100%," airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said. "And it appears that this teenager scaled a section of our perimeter and was able to proceed onto our ramp under cover of darkness and into the wheel well of an aircraft."
While the teen’s feat was no small one, aided in large part by what some might call dumb luck, the fact that it was possible is concerning. The question becomes what if someone with more sinister intent than running away from home benifitted from the same dumb luck and insufficient security measures.
"Clearly there's a big security breach here,” said CNN aviation expert Michael Kay. “Which in the post-9/11 world order is a concern."
– Chelsea Regan
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