SAN JOSE, California (PIX11) – The California teen who managed to survive a trip to Hawaii after stowing away in the wheel well of a plane has finally opened up about why he took the incredible risk.
Yahye Abdi, 15, slipped past security at San Jose International Airport in April by hopping a fence near the tarmac. He told KPIX in an exclusive interview he chose the aircraft he did “because it was the closest one I could find, I wanted to go west.”
The plane Abdi chose was bound for Maui — a five-hour flight over the Pacific Ocean. Somehow, despite the brutal cold and thin air, Abdi lived to describe the experience.
“It was like, above the clouds, I could see it through the little holes,” he told KPIX.
But why did Abdi take such an incredible risk?
“I only did it because I didn’t want to live with my step mom,” he said. “I wanted to find my mom, I haven’t seen her since I was young.”
Abdi, who was born in Somali, hasn’t seen his mother for seven years. She is reportedly living in an Ethiopian refugee camp.
Since surviving his harrowing attempt to fly to Africa in search of his mother, Abdi is now temporarily in foster care.
He says his hearing has returned after his close encounter with a jet engine, and he has been living like a normal teen, enjoying video games and going to the movies.
He has plans to reunite with his aunt, who lives in Minneapolis, but it is still unclear what repercussions his security breach will have with the Transportation Security Administration.