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Teen survives flight to Hawaii in wheel well, exposes TSA weakness

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On Sunday, April 20, 2014, a 16 year old runaway from California was a stowaway aboard a flight to Hawaii. The teen miraculously survived in oxygen-starved, subzero temperatures while hiding in the wheel well of the aircraft, according to a report by Fox News.

The boy climbed over the fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and snuck into the landing gear of Hawaiian Airlines flight 45 to Maui, Hawaii on Sunday morning. At altitudes of 38,000 feet, the temperatures in the wheel well reached an estimated negative 80 degrees Fahrenheit, according to Fox News. The lack of oxygen at that altitude for such a duration has both medical and aviation experts wondering how the boy could have possibly survived.

Surveillance camera footage at SJC confirms the teen climbing the perimeter fencing and walking on the airport ramp near the Boeing 767. In a statement, the airport claims they exceeds federal security standards, the airport also says:

SJC's security program involves many components including outer perimeter fencing,
surveillance video equipment and more than 2,800 badged employees working at the
airport who are trained to report possible security concerns to airport operations and
law enforcement authorities."

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the federal agency charged with providing airport security throughout the U.S. They declined to comment on the incident, referring reporters to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and airport authorities.

This breach in security has caught the eye of a Homeland Security committee member. Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-California) tweeted the following:

I have long been concerned about security at our airport perimeters. #Stowaway teen demonstrates vulnerabilities that need to be addressed.'

Fox News reports that the boy was treated and released from a Maui hospital. He remanded to the custody of child protective services and is not being charged with a crime, according to the FBI in Honolulu.