Father of teen stowaway says he'll bring son home

SAN JOSE, Calif.

Abdulahi Yusuf, whose 15-year-old son Yahya jumped a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport to get onto the airliner, said he brought his family to live in Santa Clara after immigrating from Somalia and his son "is struggling adjusting to life in this country."

"Our family was deeply concerned when my son went missing and we are relieved to hear of his safety considering the circumstances," Yusuf said in a statement released Sunday.

"I plan to fly to Hawaii soon to be reunited with him, and am excited to bring him back home to his family in California," Yusuf said.

Yahya Yusuf's journey over the Pacific Ocean in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 to Kahului Airport in Maui attracted wide media attention and raised questions about the adequacy of security at the city-owned San Jose airport.

Under the cover of darkness early in the morning of April 20, the teen scaled the airport's perimeter cyclone fence and was seen on the airport security video surveillance system but not detected by security officers.

The boy, who intended to run away from his family and return to his native Africa to see his mother, did not know where the plane was going to fly and waited hours inside the wheel well before the aircraft left San Jose, authorities said.

The airline, Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45, took off at 7:55 a.m. April 20 and flew non-stop and to Maui where it landed at 10:25 a.m. local time, according to San Jose airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes.

The teen lost consciousness during the flight due to lack of oxygen thousands of feet in the air and remained that way for an hour after the plane landed in Maui, FBI Special Agent Tom Simon said.

After he stepped out of the wheel well and onto the tarmac in Maui, airport and security personnel escorted him away to be interviewed by local police and the FBI, Simon said.

The boy was hospitalized in Hawaii after he was interviewed.

Both the city of San Jose and the FBI have decided not pursue criminal charges against Yahya.

Yusuf said that his son's plight and that of his family "was aggravated by our displacement in Africa for many years after fleeing our home country of Somalia because of war conditions."

"As a result, my son was not able to receive any formal education before we immigrated to the United States," he said. "Yahya is a good kid and I love him dearly."

"We thank everybody for their concern and support, and ask that people continue to respect our privacy during this incredibly difficult time," he said.

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