Photo May Show Stowaway's Footprints on Hawaiian Airlines Wheels: Report

By Lisa Fernandez, Marianne Favro and Bob Redell
|  Wednesday, Apr 23, 2014  |  Updated 9:16 AM PDT
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New images obtained by an NBC affiliate in Hawaii show what appear to possibly be the Santa Clara stowaway's footprints on the wheel of a plane he hid in for 5 /12 hours from San Jose to Maui. NBC Bay Area and NBC News have been unable to independently verify the photos. Bob Redell reports

New images obtained by an NBC affiliate in Hawaii show what appear to possibly be the Santa Clara stowaway's footprints on the wheel of a plane he hid in for 5 /12 hours from San Jose to Maui. NBC Bay Area and NBC News have been unable to independently verify the photos. Bob Redell reports

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Stowaway Teen May Have Been Headed to Africa: Report

A teen stowaway from California who flew to Hawaii tucked into a plane's wheel well may have been trying to reach family in Africa, where his biological mother lives, an NBC affiliate in Hawaii reported. Marianne Favro reports.
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New images obtained by an NBC affiliate in Hawaii show what appear to possibly be the Santa Clara stowaway's footprints on the wheel of a plane he hid in for 5 1/2 hours from San Jose to Maui.

Hawaii News Now, which goes by the call letters KHNL, obtained photos from a source showing what looks like footprints on the wheel of the Hawaiian Airlines aircraft. Another photo (below) appears to  show footprints and handprints on the door of the craft.

The prints are believed to belong to the 15-year-old Santa Clara teen who hid in the wheel well on Sunday, traveling from San Jose Mineta International Airport to Hawaii. His story has been met with disbelief from experts, who say low temperatures and lack of oxygen in the wheel well would make it hard to survive such a journey. Only 25 of the 105 flight stowaways reported since 1947 lived, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

NBC Bay Area and NBC News have been unable to independently verify the photos.

Hawaii News Now also first reported that the 15-year-old boy - a student at Santa Clara High - may have been headed to Africa to reunite with his biological mother, according to an anonymous source with the Maui police department.

The station reported that the boy, who lives in Santa Clara, wanted to reunite with his mother in Somalia. Hawaii News Now reporter Lynn Kawano said that the boy lives with his biological father and a stepmother, but was not happy living with so many siblings and step-siblings.

The teen's family told NBC Bay Area in a brief interview Monday that the reports of an argument were untrue.

Both FBI Special Agent Tom Simon and Maui Police Lt. William Juan declined to confirm or deny to NBC Bay Area the report that the boy was trying to head to Africa.

NBC News also reported that the boy first hopped a fence at San Jose's airport at 1 a.m. on Sunday near a fuel farm . A video apparently shows him climbing into the wheel well of Flight 45 between gates two and three, NBC News reported. The plane landed at Kahlului Airport at 4:30 p.m.

The teen's former English teacher at Oak Grove High, Keith Chung, told NBC Bay Area he did not know much about the teen, other than that he had moved to the U.S. from Africa three years ago and that his father was a cab driver.

Chung said the boy had some recent run-ins in his English-learning class. Those issues, on which Chung did not elaborate, had culminated in a transfer to Santa Clara High.

"I'm totally shocked," Chung said. "I had this random thought that when I heard the news, that wouldn't it be funny if he went to Oak Grove? No, I wouldn't think he would do anything that this. He's very quiet."

Student Emanuael Golla, 18, told NBC Bay Area that the teen had just transferred to Santa Clara High about five weeks ago. Golla described him as very quiet, someone who kept to himself.

And Santa Clara High Principal Greg Shelby said that when the teen returns to school, he will be able to receive psychological services if he wants.

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