A teenage boy survived a more than five-hour flight to Hawaii in the wheel well of a plane, according to the stowaway’s mom, after finding out she was alive.
In an exclusive interview with Voice of America (VOA), the stowaway’s father Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi told the news agency that his son was saved from extreme temperatures by Allah. Temperatures were below zero and oxygen levels were extremely low, which probably caused him to pass out.
“I thanked God and I was very happy,” Abdi, a resident of Santa Clara, California, told VOA’s Somali service on Wednesday. VOA reported that the stowaway’s father identified his son as Yahya Abdi, though there has been no official word on his identity.
The boy flew undiscovered from San Jose, California, to Maui, Hawaii in the wheel compartment of a Hawaiian Airlines plane. He is now recovering in a hospital in Hawaii and is officially under the charge of Hawaii child welfare service workers. The stowaway’s mom still lives in Somalia, according to law enforcement officials, and the boy wanted to go back to find her.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reports that the stowaway’s mom was thought to be dead, and he had just learned otherwise. The boy had been told by his father, a cab driver, that his mom had died. When he found out she was still alive, he tried to fly to see her.
He was carrying nothing but a comb with him when he was discovered.
The stowaway’s mom and dad are divorced, and he lives with his dad in California. His mom, Ubah Mohamed Abdullahi, has been living in a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia.
“I cried, felt badly and many people in the refugee camp came to me to give me support,” she said in an interview after her son was discovered. He came out of the wheel well about an hour after the flight landed and was discovered by ground crew at the airport, according to surveillance video of the FBI agents. The 15 year-old boy told authorities he had an argument with his father before he left home.
The stowaway’s dad told VOA that the boy had often talked about going back to Africa to be with his mom.
“He was always talking about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still live,” his dad said, who added that the stowaway’s mom was also a frequent subject of conversation.