Teen stowaway can't believe he survived flight

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 18, 2014 at 1:44 pm •  Published: June 18, 2014
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — A Somali immigrant who survived an arduous flight to Hawaii stowed away in a jet's wheel well says he was trying to reach his mom, a refugee in Ethiopia who says her teenage son broke down in tears this week during their first call since his ordeal.

Mother Ubah Mohammed Abdule, who is seeking U.S. asylum, told The Associated Press Wednesday her son, who she hasn't seen in eight years, cried on the phone Tuesday and told her he thought she was dead.

"He says, 'Mom you are not dead for sure? I thought you died in a boat trip. This is incredible news.' Then he became silent for a moment. Then he cried," she said.

Yahya Abdi, 15, said Tuesday that he ran away from his Santa Clara home, hopped a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport in April and climbed aboard the Hawaiian Airlines plane because it was the first flight he could find heading west, and he wanted to go see his mother. Yahya, who described crouching in the wheel well and covering his ears at take-off, made his first public comments during a Google Chat on Tuesday to KPIX-5 (http://cbsloc.al/1lCIvg4 ).

"It was above the clouds, I could see through the little holes," Yahya said, who gave short, stilted answers.

When asked if he can believe he survived the trip, Yahya paused several seconds: "Uh, no." But he also said he wasn't scared.

Yahya survived the flight at 35,000 feet despite low oxygen and freezing temperatures. Video footage from the Maui airport shows him dropping to the tarmac about an hour after the jet landed.