Father of teen stowaway ‘thanked God’ his son was safe


The father of a 15-year-old boy who stowed away in the wheel-well of a Hawaii-bound plane “thanked God” his son survived the ordeal, saying the boy may have been trying to return to Africa, according to the Voice of America.

“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,” Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, of Santa Clara, told VOA’s Somali service in an interview Wednesday.

Officials said the boy was unconscious during much of the flight, waking up only after the Boeing 767 touched down at Kahului Airport. Workers there spotted him walking on the tarmac.


The father identified his son to VOA as Yahya Abdi. He remained in custody of Hawaii child welfare services workers. The father said he first received the news in a phone call from the Hawaii Police Department.

“They told me that they were holding my son,” he told VOA. “I was shocked. I wondered how my son went there.”

Abdi said his son was home last Friday.

“We prayed the Friday prayers together,” he said.

The teen appears to have spent up to six hours undetected at a San Jose airport Sunday before sneaking inside the wheel-well of a Maui-bound jet, according to a federal law enforcement official.

The official, who spoke to The Times on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the case, said a security camera at Mineta San Jose International Airport recorded video of a person coming over a perimeter fence just after 1 a.m. Sunday.

Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes insisted the airport has no surveillance video showing anyone hopping over a fence. Rather, there is one video showing an “unidentified person” walking on a ramp near the Boeing 767, Barnes said.

She declined to say when the video was taken, saying only it was filmed “during darkness.”

When asked why the teen may have taken the 5.5-hour, 2,350-mile trek, his father said: “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.”

The father told VOA his son often talked about Africa.

“He was always talking about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still live,” he said. “We want to go back, but due to the current living conditions we can’t go back.”