Teen Stowaway's Intended Destination: Somalia

Dad says he missed relatives, struggled in school

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 24, 2014 1:24 AM CDT

(Newser) – The teenage stowaway who miraculously survived a five-hour flight in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 was trying to get to his native Somalia, not Hawaii, his father says. The 15-year-old, who moved to the US as a refugee with his father and stepmother four years ago, was struggling to adjust to life in America and desperately missed family members left behind, the father tells Voice of America. "He did not receive education when he was in Africa. Since we came here he had learning challenges at school. He was not good at math and science and I think he had a lot of education problems bothering him," says the father. The San Jose-area taxi driver says Allah helped his son survive the extreme cold and thin air at 38,000 feet.

"He was always talking about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still live," the father says. "We want to go back, but due to the current living conditions we can't go back." Airport officials in Hawaii, where the boy was found after surviving the flight and climbing down from the plane's landing gear, say he told them he had argued with his father and stepmother and wanted to go to Somalia to find his mother, the San Jose Mercury News reports. The father says his son, who hasn't been charged with anything in Hawaii or California, is currently in a Honolulu children's hospital and should be returning to California soon.

The 15-year-old stowaway is loaded into an ambulance at Kahului Airport in Kahului, Maui, Hawaii, Sunday afternoon.   (AP Photo/The Maui News, Chris Sugidono)
Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 arrives from San Jose, Calif., in Kahului Airport in Kahului, Hawaii.   (AP Photo/Oskar Garcia)
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