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Addressing airport security gaps after latest serious breach

On Monday, police announced that a teenager who managed to sneak into the wheel well of a commercial airliner on Sunday from California to Hawaii and somehow survived miraculously unharmed will not face charges.

Delvonte Tisdale in 2010, fell to his death after he managed to breach Charlotte/Douglas Airport Security to hide inside of the left wheel of a 737 Boeing aircraft.
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On Sunday night, FBI spokesman Tom Simon said the teen who appears to have miraculously survived a five-hour flight inside an airplane’s wheel-well ran away from his home in Santa Clara, California.

Law enforcement officials say it appears the unidentified teen jumped a fence at the San Jose Airport and settled into the Hawaiian Airlines jetliner’s unpressurized wheel-well, unnoticed by airport security. The teen said he passed out after the Maui-bound plane took off. After examining the teen, a doctor said that despite freezing temperatures and a lack of oxygen, the 16 year old boy appears unharmed.

NPR reports that an FAA study of stowaways found that some survive by going into a hibernation-like state.

Douglas R. Laird, former head of security for Northwest Airlines told NBC News that each layer of the TSA airport security has a soft spot and budget priorities keep eyes elsewhere.

"If it happens once every five or ten years, is it worth spending millions of dollars?" said Laird

If the story sounds familiar--it should. On November 15, 2010, the body of a 16 year old high school student was discovered in Milton, Massachusetts near Boston's Logan Airport. After exploring virtually all other possibles causes for the boy's death, shocked investigators concluded that the teen, Delvonte Tisdale had fallen from a 737 Boeing aircraft.

Massachusetts Rep. William Keating called for a Transportation Safety Administration and Homeland Security investigation into the serious breach of TSA security and the death of Delvonte Tisdale.

On February 10, during the hearing before the House Homeland Security Committee, when confronted by Rep. Keating, three months after the tragedy, then DHS Secretary Napolitano first publicly commented on the serious security breach and tragic death of teen. Secretary Napolitano told the panel that clearly security failed

"if a 16-year-old is able to circumvent standards and requirements and get into the wheel well of a plane, there has been a breakdown."

Following the hearing, Rep. Keating said it was good that Secretary Napolitano acknowledged the incident as a security breakdown. However, Rep. Keating continued to voice concerns that Homeland Security officials did not apply any corrective actions at the airport

Secretary Napolitano promised Keating the results of any review of the incident. Keating later said the investigation found that Tisdale was indeed able to breach security.

Christopher Chestnut, the Tisdale family attorney, raised the questions during an interview with 20/20, "what if he was a terrorist? and "what if he had a bomb?"

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