The father of a Santa Clara teen stowaway who survived a 5 1/2-hour flight from San Jose to Hawaii Sunday despite high altitudes, low oxygen and freezing temperatures tells the Voice of America that Allah protected his son.
“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, who lives in Santa Clara, told VOA's Somali service in an interview Wednesday.
Abdi said he received the news about his son's trip in a phone call from police in Hawaii.
“They told me that they were holding my son,” he said. “I was shocked. I wondered how my son went there.”
The teen’s story has been met with amazement by experts, who say low temperatures and lack of oxygen in the wheel well would make it hard to survive such a journey.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, only 25 of 105 flight stowaways reported since 1947 have lived.
“They tried to explain to me about the stowaway and the plane story,” Abdi told VOA. “I got confused, and asked them to call the San Jose police department which later explained to me how things happened.”
Abdi told the news service his son was at home Friday at noon, and they had prayed together. On Sunday, the teen scaled the fence at San Jose Mineta International Airport, sneaking into the Boeing 767's wheel well.
The teen crawled out of the wheel about an hour after the plane landed in Maui and was spotted by airport workers on the tarmac.
When VOA asked what might have spurred his son to fly to Hawaii in such a risky way, Abdi 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.”
Abdi described his son as a “very quiet person.”
“He was always busy with watching the TV and using computer. I can say he was really cool boy,” he said.
According to Abdi, his son always talked about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still lived.
“We want to go back, but due to the current living conditions we can’t go back.” Abdi said.