Newly published photos show what could be the footprints of the California teenager who climbed into the wheel well of a Boeing 767 and survived a flight across the ocean to Hawaii.
The photos, purporting to show footprints on an airplane tire and on the doors of a landing-gear compartment, were published by NBC affiliate KHNL in Honolulu and other Hawaii media outlets. They could not immediately be authenticated by NBC News.
Footprints on the wheel of a Hawaiian Airlines plane where a teenage stowaway is thought to have clambered aboard.
Footprints around the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines plane where a teenage stowaway is thought to have clambered aboard.
Authorities have told NBC News that the boy, 15, hopped a fence at the airport in San Jose, Calif., at 1 a.m. local time on Sunday. Surveillance video shows him clambering into the wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 minutes later.
About 12 hours later, the teenager climbed out of the wheel well and onto the tarmac at Kahului Airport on the island of Maui, where airline workers noticed him and called the authorities.
The Hawaii Department of Human Services said Tuesday that the boy was in state custody while the department works to get him back to his home in California.
The frigid temperatures and lack of oxygen could have easily killed him, experts say. Only about one in four of the people who have similarly stowed away on flights since 1947 have survived, according to the federal government.
The interior of a Hawaiian Airlines plane where a teenage stowaway is thought to have clambered aboard.
Hawaiian Airlines could not confirm to KHNL on Tuesday that the normal exterior inspection was carried out before the flight took off. The protocol usually includes looking over any compartment accessible from the ground, including the wheel well.
Police sources in Maui told KHNL that the boy may have been trying to get to family in Africa but wound up in Hawaii when he boarded the first plane he saw in San Jose in the middle of the night.
— Erin McClam
First published April 23 2014, 6:10 AM