Teen stowaway wanted to go to Africa, ended up in Hawaii instead


Teen stowaway in wheel well survives San Jose-Hawaii flight

The astonishing case of the 15-year-old stowaway who scaled a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport before surviving a five-hour flight to Maui in a jet's wheel well has stunned aviation experts marveling at his survival - and is raising questions about the security breach it exposed.

Authorities said the Santa Clara boy apparently hopped an 6-foot fence topped with barbed wire at the San Jose airport while it was dark Sunday morning. Surveillance video showed an unidentified person walking toward a Hawaiian Airlines Boeing 767 on the tarmac, authorities said.

Flight 45 took off at 7:55 a.m. - with no one realizing the boy had snuck into the plane's wheel well.

The boy was apparently unconscious for the duration of the 2,400-mile flight at high altitude and frigid temperatures. After the plane landed at the Kahului airport in Maui at 10:30 a.m. Hawaii time, he remained unconscious for about an hour before emerging from the wheel well, said FBI Special Agent Tom Simon in Honolulu.

"Hawaiian Airlines personnel in Maui noticed the individual on the ramp" and immediately notified airport security, said Alison Croyle, a spokeswoman for the carrier.
Teen won't be charged

A photo from Maui News showed the boy sitting up on a stretcher and being placed into an ambulance. His name and condition weren't released. He is not facing criminal charges in Hawaii - or in San Jose - and was released to social workers, authorities said. Simon said the teen had run away from home after an argument.

The boy apparently picked the first plane he saw, not realizing that his high-flying sojourn would take him halfway across the Pacific Ocean, Simon said.

"The boy is lucky to be alive," Simon said. "I can't imagine anybody surviving that type of flight."

Croyle agreed, saying, "Our primary concern now is for the well-being of the boy, who is exceptionally lucky to have survived. Hawaiian and its contractors responsible for handling our aircraft in San Jose are ready to assist various government agencies in their investigation of this incident."

The incident is the latest headline-grabbing episode involving security breaches at Bay Area airports by people who ordinarily wouldn't arouse suspicion.
Breach not unique

In February, 62-year-old Marilyn Hartman of San Francisco was caught three times trying to board a plane at San Francisco International Airport. She told police she wanted to go to Hawaii.

In one instance, Hartman succeeded in boarding an aircraft, police said. She was later arrested several more times for allegedly hanging out at the airport in violation of a court order barring her from being there unless she was lawfully ticketed to fly.

San Jose airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes said the airport, the FBI and Transportation Security Administration officials were reviewing security measures and remain "concerned about the health and welfare of the teenager." Barnes said the airport "meets and exceeds" all federal requirements.

"Despite this, no system is 100 percent, and it is possible to scale an airport perimeter fence line, especially under cover of darkness, and remain undetected, and it appears this is what this teenager did," Barnes said.
Security under review

She added that airport officials "are currently investigating all possible lessons from this incident in order to identify appropriate changes to the (airport) security program to improve it."

Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, said that although much has been done to secure airports after the Sept. 11 attacks, the incident raises troubling questions.

"I'm interested, as a member of the Homeland Security Committee, in learning about what happened at this airport, what does perimeter security look like at all of our commercial airports across the country, and is there more that we could be doing to make sure that somebody who would want to do harm does not have unfettered ease of access onto the runway."

Fred Lau, TSA federal security director at San Francisco International Airport, said Monday that he had asked his staff to contact their counterparts in San Jose to see if there were lessons to learn from the stowaway incident.

'Another look'

Lau, a former San Francisco police chief who previously oversaw security at Oakland International Airport, said, "Things like this just remind us that we could be taking another look at security procedures to make sure that we continue to do the job that we're doing."

Aviation experts said it was hard to believe the boy survived. After takeoff, the plane reached a maximum altitude of 38,000 feet, where temperatures are 40 to 50 degrees below zero.

Wheel wells, the compartments that contain the landing gear for planes, aren't pressurized. At high altitude, stowaways can die from hypothermia or hypoxia as a result of insufficient oxygen. Even if people survive the altitude of the flight, they could freeze to death - or plunge to the ground once the wheels are lowered for landing.

Some experts theorized that because of the unforgiving conditions, the boy's body went into a state of hibernation, remaining unconscious until the plane reached a lower altitude.
Not unheard of

"A medical miracle, akin to those who fall into frozen rivers and survive," said former San Francisco International Airport spokesman Mike McCarron.

Pilot and aviation consultant John Nance said the incident is "one of three things - a hoax, a miracle or we're going to have to rewrite the textbooks if he actually did what he says he did. He needs to be studied very carefully by medical science because this is not supposed to be possible."

Although such incidents are rare, they are not unheard of. A study of wheel well stowaways by the Federal Aviation Administration said preventive measures include securing the ramp and the airplane when it pauses on the runway and holds for takeoff.

The study noted that some attempts probably go undocumented, with "bodies falling into an ocean, or into a remote land area."

Henry K. Lee is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: hlee@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @henryklee



Be Grateful Even During Tough Times

 By Kimberley Cohen Tuesday, April 22, 2014


Kids jump for joy happiness Faced with busy schedules and challenging lives, we often forget how fortunate we truly are. Even when things are going well we forget.

Being thankful should be treated as an important part of the day because appreciation contributes to our genuine happiness.

When you are grateful, it helps you to be more positive, receptive, optimistic, hopeful, peaceful, and grounded, especially during trying situations.

When times are tough, or if you are in the midst of despair, or emotional mayhem, taking a moment to foster your appreciation will create a sense of encouragement and calm when you need it most.

When you acknowledge the people and things in your day that were helpful or appreciated, it can put things back in perspective again and bring you back to center or a more mindful space.

It is good to write things down before going to bed, creating a grateful ending to the day. Using all these techniques will really focus you on your blessings, even in the midst of challenges.

Make A Conscious Effort: When you make a conscious effort to acknowledge the things and people in your life that you are thankful for, you are saying, "No matter what, I am still grateful". You aren't closing your eyes, you are keeping them open to see more and more beauty and goodness in your life even on days when it's tough to see them.

Write Them Down: When you jot things down, as opposed to just thinking about them, you are truly taking in each and every one. You aren't just aware of them, you are acknowledging them. You are pausing and remembering the positives of your day and in your life. You are focusing on a moment in time that you truly appreciated and you are allowing it to sink into your heart and soul.

Remain Hopeful: Some days can be extremely hard to be optimistic or feel good about. Being grateful reminds you there are people supporting you and things that helped you through your day. These are the encouragements and cheerleaders to help you through the tough time and it's important to recognize and honor them.

Acknowledge the Challenges: Challenges are generally not something someone wants to go through, let alone appreciate. Yet, they are often the very things that can help define, fine-tune, improve, alter, and sometimes force necessary changes and growth. In time, triumphs really can emerge from tragedies. Don't forget to acknowledge the challenges, what you are learning, and most importantly, what you are grateful for because of this hardship.

Treasure The Moments: Moments come and go throughout the day, and sometimes they can be overlooked, under-appreciated, or taken for granted. They won't be though if you acknowledge them. It's the little things that may go unnoticed but are so important to notice.

Don't Forget When You Are Feeling Good: When things are going great, and you are feeling on top of the world, don't forget to appreciate all that you have and all that you are. In a blink of an eye things can change and you don't want to forget to truly be thankful for all the goodness in your life.

There truly are many blessings, and it's important to acknowledge and give thanks for them.

What and/or whom are you grateful for today?


  • Most Shocking

Man miraculously survives after driving car off 80ft cliff

  Stewart Published: 15th April 2014

An unidentified man miraculously survived after losing control of his car on the A259 and driving off an 80ft cliff. The incident happened on Sunday morning and investigators said that the man survived the drop because the car cleared the promenade below the cliff and landed on the water.

22 emergency response workers attended the scene to find the driver had climbed out of the car and made it to nearby rocks; he did not sustain any serious injuries.

Chief Superintendent Nev Kemp tweeted out after the event, saying, “Incredibly a man escaped without serious injury after his car went over the cliff near Roedean just after midnight and ended up in the sea.”

A Newhaven Coastguard said that emergency crews used ladders and ropes to rescue the driver, he said, “A second ladder was installed to use as a slipway and the casualty was secured into Newhaven Coastguard’s rescue stretcher and then using some of our cliff rescue equipment we were able to slide the stretcher up the ladders,”

“With nine members of various agencies on the three ropes and two of the Newhaven team at the top of the ladder we were able to bring the casualty up from the beach where they were handed into the care of paramedics.

“All the time the recovery operation was ongoing a member of the Brighton lifeboat crew who had swum ashore in a dry suit was inspecting the vehicle to check for any secondary casualties.”

Police are still investigating the incident.


Facebook wants to help you meet friends offline.


A new optional feature broadcasts people's locations to their friends
By Zach Miners
April 17, 2014 03:24 PM ET

IDG News Service - Facebook now has its own take on location sharing, an optional feature that periodically broadcasts people's locations to their friends.

"Nearby Friends," a mobile feature for Android and iOS, lets users share with others their general location, or their precise location for a limited period of time.

Those who turn on the feature will be occasionally notified when friends are nearby via a push notification on their device. Users can choose which of their Facebook friends will be notified of their location. Users can turn off the feature at any time.
Facebook's Nearby Friends feature lets users share both their general and precise location with friends.

In addition to the notifications, users might see Nearby Friends posts in their news feeds, and they'll also be able to pull up a list of friends and their locations.

"Sharing your location with Nearby Friends goes two ways -- you and your friends both have to turn on Nearby Friends and choose to share with each other to see when you're nearby. Your friends will only be able to see that you're nearby if you share this info with them and vice versa," wrote Andrea Vaccari, a Facebook product manager, in a blog post.

Nearby Friends will begin rolling out in the U.S. over the coming weeks, Facebook said on Thursday.

In addition to placing themselves in a general area, users can also broadcast a specific location, like a movie theater or restaurant, display it on a map and share it with specific friends for a limited amount of time.

Facebook hopes the service will facilitate real-life connections and meetups, which seems a nice departure for a site that usually has people glued to their screens.

But there are privacy implications in providing a constant broadcast of users' whereabouts. Other services like Foursquare and Facebook's own Nearby Places feature typically have users manually share their location when they visit specific places. Facebook hopes to address those privacy concerns in Nearby Friends issues by providing the service only for friends who mutually activate it for each other.

Turning the feature on creates a private log in Facebook of a person's location history. Users can clear their location in their settings.

Facebook did not say whether advertisements would be included as part of the service, although it's not hard to imagine ads from local businesses eventually appearing.

The feature builds on technology from Glancee, a mobile-discovery app developer Facebook acquired in 2012.


At least six killed and hundreds missing as ferry carrying 462 people sinks off Korean coast


At least six people are dead and hundreds are missing after a ferry sank off the southern coast of South Korea with 462 passengers and crew.
YouTube: Reporter Joseph Kim discusses the ferry sinking

South Korea's coastguard has confirmed 179 have been rescued from the sinking ferry; however, it said hundreds are still unaccounted for.

Coastguards and navy divers have resumed the search for around 280 people still missing in the early hours of Thursday morning. A US navy ship has also been sent to the scene to help with the search.

Many passengers are believed to be trapped inside the ship.

Authorities will also be seeking answers to many questions surrounding Wednesday's accident, notably what caused the Sewol vessel to list and then flip over entirely, leaving only a small section of its hull above water.

Rescue efforts on Thursday could be be hampered by difficult weather conditions, amid forecasts of rain, strong winds and fog.

South Korea's ministry of security and public administration earlier reported that 368 people had been rescued and about 100 were still missing, but later said those numbers had been miscalculated.
Distraught parents wait for news

Most of the passengers were teenagers and their teachers on a trip from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb in Seoul.

One of the six people confirmed to have died was a student on the school trip.

Parents of missing children faced an agonising wait for news as they gathered in Jindo, the nearest town to where the ferry capsized.

"My tears have dried up," one mother said.

"I am holding on to hope. I hope the government does everything to bring these kids back to their mothers."

Distraught parents of the students had gathered at Danwon High School in the morning when news of the disaster broke.

"It is as if the world is falling apart. I really want to go now to see my son," Park Seong-ho, the father of a 17-year-old boy who had not been in contact, said before leaving for Jindo.

TV footage showed a chaotic scene in the school's auditorium, with parents yelling at school officials and frantically trying to make phone calls to their children.

"I talked to my daughter. She said she had been rescued along with 10 other students," one mother told the YTN news channel.

"They said they had jumped into the water before getting rescued. One was injured in the leg and is being treated in hospital."
Clues sought

The 6,825-tonne ferry was sailing from the western port of Incheon to Jeju island, which is known as "South Korea's Hawaii" and is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.

The ferry sent out a distress signal at 9:00am local time after it ran into trouble 20 kilometres off the island of Byungpoong.

It is not clear why the Sewol ferry listed heavily on to its side and capsized in apparently calm conditions, but some survivors spoke of what appeared to be an impact prior to the accident.

"It was fine. Then the ship went 'boom' and there was a noise of cargo falling," Cha Eun-ok, who was on the deck of the ferry taking photographs at the time, said.

"The on-board announcement told people to stay put ... people who stayed are trapped," she said.

    We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped.

The rescue operation involved almost 100 ships, as well as 18 helicopters.

According to a coastguard official in Jindo, the waters where the ferry capsized have some of the strongest tides of any off South Korea's coast.

This means divers were prevented from entering the mostly submerged ship for several hours.

Footage broadcast on television showed rescuers pulling passengers in life vests out of the water as their boats bobbed beside the ferry's hull.

"We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped," one passenger told the YTN news channel.

"The boat is tilting and we have to hold onto something to stay seated."

Heavy fog had set in overnight in the area, leading to cancellations of many passenger ferry services to islands.

However, news reports said visibility in the area was fair.



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