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Teenage stowaway no longer in Hawaii, officials say

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 1:51 a.m. HST, May 4, 2014

The 15-year-old boy who survived a 5-hour flight from California to Hawaii in a jet's wheel well has left the state, but officials on Saturday would not say where they sent him and with whom.

Zahra Billoo, who has been speaking on behalf of the boy's family, declined to provide any details, saying she wasn't authorized to discuss the matter.

"We're doing our best to help the family maintain the privacy they requested," she said Saturday.

Yahya Abdi endured the flight from San Jose to Maui after hopping an airport fence and climbing into the wheel well of a Boeing 767. He has not spoken publicly about the ordeal that raised questions about airport security and revealed the personal family drama of a Somali immigrant struggling to adjust to life in the United States.

Abdi, who lives in Santa Clara with his father, stepmother and siblings, had been unhappy in California and desperately missed his mother, according to those who know his family.

Kayla Rosenfeld, the spokeswoman for Hawaii's Department of Human Services, said late Friday that the youth is "no longer in Hawaii."

Her brief emailed statement did not specify how or when Abdi left, whom he traveled with or where he went. Calls to her office were not immediately answered Saturday.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Saturday that Abdi was sent back to California and is in the custody of Santa Clara County social service officials, according to a source close to the family.

That source also said a hearing was held in a Hawaii courtroom Friday and a judge transferred Abdi from the custody of the Hawaii Department of Human Services to Santa Clara's Department of Family & Children's Services, the newspaper reported.

The boy's father, Abdilahi Yusuf, arrived in Hawaii last week from the family's home in Santa Clara to bring him back.

Rosenfeld had said previously that the teen was in a Honolulu hospital after being transferred to state custody from the Maui airport, where he was questioned by FBI and airport officials following the April 20 flight.

Mukhtar Guled, a cousin of the boy's stepmother, told the San Jose Mercury News on Friday that it wasn't clear whether the father would be allowed to bring his son home.

"He could not see him," Guled said. "They won't let him see him or visit him or talk to him."

Abdi's mother lives in a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia.

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