The father of the 15-year-old stowaway who survived a flight over the Pacific says he was shocked to learn about his son’s extraordinary and dangerous trip in the wheel well of a Boeing 767.
“They told me that they were holding my son. I wondered how my son went there,” the teen’s father said when he heard from officials in Hawaii.
The California cab driver spoke to Voice of America in his native Somali and said he saw his son Friday at noon.
“He was very quiet in person,” the teen’s father said. “He was always busy with watching the TV and using computer. I can say he was a really cool boy.”
But the FBI reports the teen had a fight with the family and ran away. In the middle of the night after 1 a.m. Sunday, the teen was recorded on video cameras jumping the fence at San Jose’s airport but no one saw him.
He was in the wheel well for a more than five hour flight, with little oxygen at 38,000 ft., and temperatures at least 50 below. He wasn’t discovered until he crawled out of the wheel well an hour after the flight landed in Maui.
The teen transferred to a new school this year and his father says he was bothered to be struggling in some classes. There have been suggestions the boy wanted to go to Africa.
“He was always talking about going back to Africa where his grandparents life,” his father said.
But that apparently wasn’t his plan when he jumped the fence in California. The teen told an official in Hawaii he climbed up into the first plane he saw.
“He didn’t know anything until we told him he was in Maui,” Maui Airport Manager Marvin Moniz said. “’You’re in Hawaii.’ So he was like, ‘Oh, OK.’”
ABC News' David Kerley contributed to this report.