NEW YORK – A 15-year-old Somali boy who survived a nearly six-hour flight stowed in the wheel well of a Hawaii-bound jet has been returned to California and placed in the custody of social services, the San Jose Mercury News reported.
The teen was transferred back to Santa Clara, California, without his father, who has not been allowed to see his son since the teen stowed away to Hawaii on April 20, the newspaper said Saturday.
In a statement after his son ran away, father Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi said the boy had been “struggling adjusting to life” in America.
The Department of Family and Children’s Services in Santa Clara County did not immediately respond on Sunday to a request for comment about the teen’s custody status.
The teen left protective custody in Hawaii late last week, according to Hawaii’s Department of Human Services, but no further details on his whereabouts were provided because of his age.
The Mercury News reported that the teen was flown back to California after a court hearing in Hawaii on Friday.
The boy had been recovering at a Hawaii hospital since he staggered out of the airplane’s wheel well last month, surviving a flight across the Pacific Ocean in subfreezing temperatures and with little oxygen.
The boy told investigators he was trying to go to Africa to find his mother, Ubah Mohamed Abdulle, who is living in a refugee camp in Ethiopia.
In a radio interview last week with the Voice of America, Abdulle said she was divorced from her husband, who lives in Santa Clara with their son and two of his siblings.
“They were even told that I was dead, but they recently found out that I was alive,” she told the broadcaster.
The boy’s father arrived in Honolulu from California about a week after the incident but was not able to see or talk to his son, the Mercury News said.