The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Top News

April 21, 2014

Stowaway teen forces review of airport security

(Continued)

SAN JOSE, Calif. —

Hawaiian Airlines spokeswoman Alison Croyle said airline personnel noticed the boy on the ramp after the flight arrived and immediately notified airport security.

"Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived," Croyle said.

Isaac Yeffet, a former head of security for the Israeli airline El Al who now runs his own firm, Yeffet Security Consultants, said the breach shows that U.S. airport security still has weaknesses, despite billions of dollars invested.

"Shame on us for doing such a terrible job," he said. "Perimeters are not well protected. We see it again and again."

A congressman who serves on the Homeland Security committee wondered how the teen could have sneaked onto the airfield unnoticed.

"I have long been concerned about security at our airport perimeters. #Stowaway teen demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed," tweeted Rep. Eric Swalwell, a Democrat who represents the San Francisco Bay Area's eastern cities and suburbs.

Unlike checkpoint security inside the airport, which is overseen by the Transportation Security Administration, airport perimeters are policed by local authorities, as well as federal law enforcement.

Airport police were working with the FBI and the TSA to review security.

The boy was released to child-protective services in Hawaii and not charged with a crime, Simon said.

San Jose police say they will forward the findings of their investigation to the district attorney, who can decide whether to file criminal charges in California.

The FAA says 105 stowaways have sneaked aboard 94 flights worldwide since 1947, and about 1 out of 4 survived. But agency studies say the actual numbers are probably higher, as some survivors may have escaped unnoticed, and bodies could fall into the ocean undetected.

In August, a 13- or 14-year-old boy in Nigeria survived a 35-minute trip in the wheel well of a domestic flight after stowing away. Authorities credited the flight's short duration and its altitude of about 25,000 feet. Others who hid in wheel wells have died, including a 16-year-old killed aboard a flight from Charlotte, N.C., to Boston in 2010 and a man who fell onto a suburban London street as a flight from Angola began its descent in 2012.

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