Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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April 24, 2014

Airport official: Teen had no clue he was in Maui

(Continued)

"No system is foolproof," San Jose International Airport aviation director Kim Aguirre said. "Certainly as we learn more, if we see any gaping holes, we will work to fill them."

Aguirre said a perimeter search found no holes or crawl spaces in the barbed wire fence surrounding their 1,050 acre facility, and officials were waiting to finish their investigation before implementing any additional security measures.

Santa Clara High School Principal Gregory Shelby sent a note Tuesday to staff members saying the teen had been in the U.S. for about four years, speaks English as his second language and had transferred into the district just five weeks ago, according to Jennifer Dericco, a spokeswoman for the Santa Clara Unified School District.

Shelby did not return calls from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Dericco said confidentiality rules kept her from confirming the teen was a student at the school.

The boy's father drives a taxi, Aguirre said, but she didn't know if he works at the airport.

Aviation security experts say the San Jose airport is hardly alone when it comes to weaknesses in securing its airfield.

"What happened in San Jose can happen as we speak at other airports, because nobody can watch all these monitors" that feed video from around the airport, said Rafi Ron, former head of security at the closely guarded airport in Tel Aviv, Israel who now runs a security consulting firm.

The fact that the teen survived is remarkable: At a cruising altitude of 38,000 feet, temperatures in the wheel well would have been well below zero and the air so starved of oxygen that he likely passed out. In response, his body could have entered a hibernation-like state, from which he emerged once he was back on the ground, experts say.

Although he was walking after the flight, he has remained hospitalized since Sunday.

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