Local aviation expert doesn't believe stowaway story

Sixteen year old California boy says he stowed away in the wheel-well of a Hawaiian Airline

KITV Honolulu

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WICHITA, Kan. -- It would be a medical miracle if it's true says a Wichita pediatrician.

On the other hand, Ron Ryan former owner of Ryan International Airlines and a pilot with more than 30,000 flight hours says, "I absolutely, positively, unequivocally do not believe he rode in the wheel well. He would be dead. That's just an impossibility."

A 16 year old California boy was seen on security video scaling the fence at the San Jose International Airport The boy says he stowed away in the wheel well of the Hawaiian Airlines 767 on a flight to Maui. The boy, later questioned by the FBI, says he got out of the wheel well after it landed.

Ryan's not buying it saying, "Nobody can survive when it's 50 or 60 degrees below zero and above 30,000 feet without oxygen."

Dr. Amy Seery, a pediatrician with Via Christi says, "The very first thing that struck me was this report that he was totally normal because that would be a medical miracle. Not only did he survive the flight, but for him to come away unscathed would be almost unheard of."

Dr. Seery explains what happens to the body being deprived of oxygen, "Basically over time you would just gradually fall asleep and your tissue levels, your oxygen would drop little by little, and over time your systems would all begin to shut down and eventually you die. Your brain craves oxygen and it doesn't do well deprived for very long. So even if you bring someone back damage has usually happened at that point."

But if the teen did ride it out in the airplane's wheel well, there is speculation that perhaps the low temperature put his body into a hibernating state.

About that speculation Dr. Seery says, "Here's the miracle about the situation. It's because he was up so high and it was so cold, maybe similar to people who fall into a frozen river or lake their metabolism slows down dramatically. There body goes into a kind of stasis, to say it in a science way. So maybe his tissues weren't requiring it, that he got away with so little. So it is possible. But to be up in the air where it's negative 40 or 50 degrees and to have no skin injuries. Again, it's just a miracle if it is true."

That's too much for Ryan to believe. Instead of stowing away in the wheel well, Ryan believes he crawled up into the cargo hold which is pressurized and gets some heat also.

Ryan says, "To say he rode in the cargo compartment makes lots of sense."


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