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August 21, 2014

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Report: Stowaway’s mom says son believed she was dead

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The News, Chris Sugidono / AP

A 16-year-old boy who stowed away in the wheel well of a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui, on stretcher at center, is loaded into an ambulance at Kahului Airport in Kahului, Maui, Hawaii Sunday afternoon, April 20, 2014. Officials say the boy is “lucky to be alive” and unharmed, surviving cold temperatures at 38,000 feet and a lack of oxygen.

SAN JOSE, Calif. — The mother of a California teenager who stowed away on a flight to Hawaii told Voice of America that her son had recently learned that she was alive after being told by his father she had died.

Speaking with VOA from a refugee camp in eastern Ethiopia, mother Ubah Mohamed Abdullahi said she felt bad that her son risked his life and that her dream is to live with her children in the United States.

"I cried, felt badly and many people in the refugee camp came to me to give me support," she said.

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 1/2-hour flight over the Pacific would have exposed him to sub-zero temperatures and 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.

"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.

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