Somali Teen Stowed Away In Plane Because He Was Homesick, Missed Mother

D.L. Chandler April 28, 2014

Fifteen-year-old Yahya Yusuf (pictured) from Somalia recently stowed away in the wheel well of a jetliner flying to Hawaii from San Jose International Airport, because he was homesick and wanted to see his mother after he was allegedly taken away from her by his father, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi.

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Since the incident, the teen has reportedly remained hospitalized in Hawaii, because he lost Yahya Yusuf stowaway californiaconsciousness inside the plane’s wheel due to high altitudes. His condition isn’t immediately known, but there are quickly developing portions to the story.

After being told by his father that his mother died in their war-torn homeland, the boy reportedly found out that his mother was actually alive. Immediately, he reportedly became desperate to get back to her after his father took him and his two siblings away to California.

The Associated Press reports:

A United Nations official told the Associated Press that the boy’s mother, 33, lives at the Sheder Refugee Camp in Ethiopia, which houses about 10,200 displaced Somalis.

Speaking with Voice of America radio from a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia, the teen’s mother, Ubah Mohamed Abdullahi, said her son had recently learned she was alive after being told by his father she had died.

“I know he was looking for me, and I am requesting the US government to help me reunite with my kids,” she told VOA. She said her ex-husband took their three children to California without her knowledge, and that she hadn’t heard from them since 2006.

Consequently, the teen reportedly ran away from home and then jumped the fence of the airport, hiding himself in the wheel well of Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45.

CNN reports:

He survived the nearly five-hour flight in subzero temperatures at oxygen-depleted heights — as high as 38,000 feet — against the odds, authorities believe.

Those who try their hand at hiding in wheel wells have a 24 percent survival rate.

The family is working with the Council on American-Islamic Relations to provide medical and other forms of support. There are varying details regarding a bitter divorce, but both sides seem to be considering a reunion says the boy’s father, Abdi.

Abdi reportedly describes Yahya Yusuf as a “good kid” who is struggling with adjusting to life in America. The Father released the following statement Sunday night:

“Our family was deeply concerned when my son went missing, and we were relieved to hear of his safety considering the circumstances of his trip,” Abdulahi Yusuf said in a statement issued by the Bay Area chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

“My son, like many immigrant children, is struggling adjusting to life in this country,” he said. “Our situation 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. Yahya is a good kid who I love dearly.”

“He was always talking about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still live,” Abdi also told VOA, speaking in Somali. “We want to go back, but due to the current living conditions we can’t go back.”

Watch Abdi speak about his son stowing away here:


The boy has yet to speak publicly about the ordeal.

Watch news coverage of the Somali teen stowing away in the aircraft here:


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Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: June 19, 2018


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