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April 24, 2014

Stowaway on jet said to be homesick for Africa

HONOLULU (AP) — A security video shows the California boy who survived stowing away on a jetliner dangling his feet from the aircraft's wheel well after arriving in Hawaii, before jumping 8 to 10 feet to the ground and collapsing, an airport official says.

The 15 year old, who defied the odds by living through the freezing, low-pressure conditions in the jetliner's wheel well as it flew from California to Hawaii, was disoriented and thirsty after Sunday's ordeal, Maui District Airport Manager Marvin Moniz said.

Staggering toward the nose of the plane, the soft-spoken boy in a San Francisco Giants hoodie asked a ramp agent for a drink of water, setting in motion federal and local law enforcement investigations, national calls for better airport security and a flurry of speculation about how anyone could survive such a perilous trip.

Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, who said he is the boy's father, told Voice of America Wednesday that his son — who is still hospitalized in Honolulu — missed Africa, where they used to live, and had been struggling in school.

Abdi said he learned of the perilous journey Sunday when he got a call from police in Hawaii.

"When I watched the analysis about the extraordinary and dangerous trip of my son on local TVs and that Allah had saved him, I thanked God and I was very happy," Abdi said.

The Associated Press was unable to reach Abdi, who airport officials say drives a taxi.

After the boy was discovered in Maui, FBI and Transportation Security Administration investigators questioned him and fed him like a local with teriyaki meatballs and rice from an airport restaurant and a box of Maui macadamia nut cookies. The teen, whose name has not been released, said he had been in an argument at home, went to the airport, and got onto the first plane he came to.

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