Teen stowaway speaks out for first time on death-defying flight

Teen stowaway speaks out for first time on death-defying flight

Hawaii officials released Maui airport security video that shows a teen stowaway hopping from the wheel well of a jet.

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by Jolie Lee, USA TODAY Network

KING5.com

Posted on June 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 18 at 7:00 AM

For the first time since he was discovered hidden in a plane, 15-year-old Yahya Abdi describes what it was like to be in the wheel well of a 5-1/2 hour flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui, Hawaii.

In an interview with KPIX-TV in San Francisco, Abdi said he could look through the holes in the wheel well and see the clouds below him from 35,000 feet in the air. Abdi snuck onto the Boeing 767 in April.

Abdi has regained his hearing and his physical health is fine, KPIX reports.

Most plane stowaways in the wheel well do not survive, and have to contend with freezing temperatures, lack of oxygen and the risk of being crushed by the plane's wheels. The FBI had called Abdi's survival a "miracle."

Security video showed the teen was able to breach Mineta San Jose International Airport security and climb undetected into the wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45.

Abdi said he was trying to reunite with his mother, who lives in a refugee camp in Ethiopia.

"I only did it because I didn't want to live with my stepmom. Second of all, I wanted to find my mom. I haven't seen her since I was young," the teen told KPIX.

Abdi warned other runaways against doing what he did "because sometimes they will end up dying," he said to KPIX.

Follow @JolieLeeDC on Twitter.

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