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A 16-year-old boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui, is loaded into an ambulance at Kahului Airport on April 20. / Chris Sugidono, AP

The father of the Somali-born teen who survived a 5-hour flight from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 says his son was struggling with life in his American high school and longed to return to Africa.

The boy, 15, scaled a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport early Sunday and spent more than six hours on the tarmac and in the wheel compartment before Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 left for Maui, the FBI says. He apparently passed out, surviving the thin air and subzero temperatures of flight at more than 30,000 feet.

Officials at Santa Clara High School say the youth moved from Africa about four years ago and had attended their school for a month.

"He did not receive education when he was in Africa," Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, who identified the stowaway as his son Yahya Abdi, told Voice of America. "Since we came here he had learning challenges at school. He was not good at math and science and I think he had a lot of education problems bothering him."

The teen said he climbed into the closest plane to the airport fence, hoping it was destined for Africa, Hawaii News Now reported. He was found, disoriented, on the Maui airport grounds about an hour after the plane landed.

"He was always talking about going back to Africa, where his grandparents still live," the boy's father told Voice of America. "We want to go back, but due to the current living conditions we can't go back."

Abdi said he was "shocked" when Maui police called to say they were holding his son. He said police tried to explain what happened, but he didn't understand.

"I got confused, and asked them to call the San Jose Police Department which later explained to me how things happened," he said.

Abdi said police said his son would be returned to California after medical officials are confident he is healthy.

"When I watched the analysis about the extraordinary and dangerous trip of my son on local TVs (I realized) Allah had saved him," Abdi told VOA. "I thanked God and I was very happy."



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Miracle stowaway's dad says son longed for Africa

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