Society

16-Year-Old Survives More Than 5 Hours in Wheel-Well of Plane to Hawaii

| by Allison Geller

A 16-year-old boy miraculously survived almost six hours stowed away in the wheel well of a plane traveling from California from Hawaii.

The teen was “unconscious for the lion’s share of the flight,” according to FBI spokesman Tom Simon.

Simon told the Associated Press that the boy survived frigid temperatures and a lack of oxygen, traveling at 38,000 feet.

“Kid’s lucky to be alive,” Simon said.

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The stowaway was discovered without ID on the tarmac of the Maui airport.

Security footage from the San Jose airport shows the teen hopping a fence in Santa Clara, CA to board a Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45. He had run away from his family after an argument, Simon said.

After spending most of the flight unconscious, he hopped down from the wheel well and was wandering around the airport when airline personnel found him.

Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said personnel saw the boy on the ramp immediately after the flight landed and told airport security.

“Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived,” Croyle said.

A medical screening confirmed that the boy was unharmed.

“Doesn’t even remember the flight,” Simon said, echoing Croyle’s sentiment. “It’s amazing he survived that.”

"It sounds really incredible," aviation expert Jeff Wise told CNN. "Being in a wheel well is like all of a sudden being on top of Mount Everest."

A study by the Federal Aviation Administration of 10 wheel-well stowaways between 1947 and 1993 found that five of the hidden passengers survived. Their bodies went into a “hibernative” state, with their hearts only beating a couple of times a minute.

The boy, who was not charged with a crime, is now in the custody of child protective services.

Sources: Associated Press, CNN