The 15-year-old Hawaiian Airlines stowaway had problems with his life in America, particularly at school, and longed to return to Africa, the boy’s father said in an interview, USA Today reports.
The Somali-born teenager, who miraculously survived a five-hour flight to Hawaii from California in the wheel well of a plane, was having difficulties adjusting to America.
“He did not receive education when he was in Africa,” Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi told Voice of America about his son, whom he identified as Yahya Abdi. “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.”
It was discovered that the teen had sneaked onto the tarmac, where he remained undetected for six hours before climbing into the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight to Maui. The unpressurized spaces within wheel wells are notoriously dangerous, with temperatures that fall well below zero and a deadly lack of oxygen because of the cruising altitude. The young man was unconscious for most of the flight, and even experts are surprised that he survived.
“He was always talking about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still live,” the boy’s father told the broadcaster, which is funded by the U.S. government. “We want to go back, but due to the current living conditions, we can’t go back.”
The boy will eventually be returned to California, but medical officials want to be sure he is truly OK after his near-fatal ordeal.
“When I watched the analysis about the extraordinary and dangerous trip of my son on local TVs, [I realized] Allah had saved him,” Abdi told VOA. “I thanked God and I was very happy.”
Read more at USA Today.