(TheBlaze/AP) — The mother of a teen who stowed away in the wheel well of a plane that flew over the Pacific says her Somali-American son was trying to reach her in Africa, according to Voice of America.
A 16-year-old boy, seen sitting on a stretcher, who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui is loaded into an ambulance at Kahului Airport in Maui, Hawaii Sunday afternoon, April 20, 2014. (Image source: AP/The Maui News, Chris Sugidono)
Ubah Mohamed Abdullahi said in an interview with VOA's Somali service that her son, Yahya Abdi, recently learned she was alive after being told by his father that she was dead.
FBI agents say surveillance video shows the 15-year-old jumping out of the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet on a Maui tarmac Sunday after surviving a cross-Pacific flight from San Jose, California. He told authorities he had argued with his father before leaving his house.
The 5 ½-hour flight over the Pacific would have exposed him to very low temperatures, likely knocking him out for the duration. He has been hospitalized ever since.
The boy's parents are divorced, and he lives with his father, Abdilahi Yusuf Abdi, a cab driver in Santa Clara, California.
Abdullahi said her ex-husband took their three children to California without her knowledge and that she hadn't heard from them since 2006.
[sharequote align="center"]"I know he was looking for me."[/sharequote]
"I know he was looking for me, and I am requesting the U.S. government to help me reunite with my kids," she told VOA.
She added that she is "very shocked" by her son's ordeal and "how he risked his life."
Abdullahi, who lives in a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia, says she cried and felt bad when she learned about her son's ordeal. She says many people at the refugee camp offered her support.
The boy's father spoke to VOA's Somali service in an exclusive interview Wednesday and said "Allah had saved" his son.