Video After The Jump
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - It was a theory so bizarre, no one wanted to believe it. How in the world could 16-year-old Delvonte Tisdale, a well-liked, well-behaved North Meck student, have managed to stow away in the wheel well of a commercial airplane?
Officials near Boston say it's true and Friday, voiced the question on everyone's mind. "If that was someone with a different motive, than perhaps a young man's curiosity, if that was someone with a different motive, if that was a terrorist, that could be a bomb that's planted there undetected,” says Norfolk Co., Mass. District Attorney William Keating.
Investigators say they've found hand prints inside the wheel well, as well as Tisdale's shirt and sneakers along a flight path in a wooded area in Massachusetts, the same area his body was discovered in November.
Derick Brown lives in Tisdale's neighborhood in north Charlotte. He describes the probable airport security breach as "unreal." He says, "That's supposedly a secure area that he was able to get through, so yeah, not knowing any more than what I know, you have to wonder, was he helped? I mean, was he ignored? How?"
"The systems they have in place are as good as anywhere,” says Barry Brush of Charlotte-Douglas Airport. Brush is a retired US Airways pilot. He flew commercial airplanes for 32 years and says looking for stowaways is just not on the "to do" list. "We don't see what we're not looking for,” says Brush.
Brush's experience tells him Tisdale died before he fell from the plane near Boston. He could have been crushed by the plane's gear, but if he survived that, he would most likely have not been able to survive the lack of oxygen or freezing temperatures.
At an altitude of about 35,000 feet, temps in the wheel well would have reached negative 30 degrees. "You have to realize that by the time he did fall from the airplane, that was probably a non-event for him,” says Brush.
The FAA tells us that there have been 86 stowaway attempts. Only 18 people survived. The last time someone tried it on a domestic flight was in 1972.
"That kind of breach of security better be investigated to the full extent and it shouldn't be an issue of who's responsible. Everyone should be looking at what they can do,” says Keating of the Tisdale breach.
Both the TSA and Charlotte-Douglas airport officials tell us they are investigating how this happened and will release more information as early as Monday.
Source: Fox Charlotte