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Teen Reveals Why He Hid in Plane Wheel Well

Wednesday, June 18, 2014
Yahya Abdi missed his mother.

So the California teen, frustrated with his home situation, hopped a fence at the San Jose Airport April 20, and stowed away in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 that flew to Maui.

Abdi, 15, discussed his journey in an exclusive interview with San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX, his first public statements since the trip.

"I took that plane because it was the closest one I could find that was going to go west," he said over Google Chat.

Somehow, Abdi survived amid the high altitude, frigid temperatures and low oxygen as the plane flew for more than five hours. He says he crouched, covering his ears as the plane took off. The plane reached altitudes above 35,000 feet.

"It was above the clouds. I could see through the little holes," he told KPIX Tuesday.

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Asked whether he can believe that he survived the trip, the teen simply said, "Nope."

Abdi said he was unhappy at home and missed his birth mother, who he hadn't seen since he was 7. She lives in Africa now, although Abdi had no concrete plans for getting there when he randomly picked the flight to Hawaii. He spoke to her on the phone Tuesday.

"I would tell her to live with me in America," he told KPIX.

The teen is regaining his health - and his hearing, too. He says he's staying at a temporary foster home, but plans to soon live with his aunt in the Minneapolis area, KPIX reported

While he survived his journey, Abdi hopes others don't follow his lead to breach airport security.

"They shouldn't run away because sometimes they will end up dying," he said.

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