Migrants have been flooding over the United States southern border but one Guatemalan man took a much more perilous route to America as he stowed away in the landing gear of a plane that flew from the central American country to Miami on Saturday.
“Poor man. He just got here. Did you come here from Guatemala?,” a man can be heard saying in Spanish in the video. “Water! Bring water for him.”
The video was posted to Instagram by @onlyindade and showed the 26- year old man looking bewildered as he sat down on the tarmac dressed in jeans, boots, and a lightweight jacket.
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“What the flip, like where was he?” the man filming exclaimed as surveyed the area the stowaway aparently escaped from.
“The individual was evaluated by Emergency Medical Services and taken to a Hospital for medical assessment,” a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement according to WTVJ. “Persons are taking extreme risks when they try to conceal themselves in confined spaces such as an aircraft.”
Temperatures can drop significantly in the landing gear area of an aircraft during a flight due to the high altitude, the lack of oxygen can make it difficult to survive as well.
“So this person was in there a time period probably about two hours, where they were subjected to subzero temperatures,” Willard Shepard, a pilot and WTVJ investigator said.
Greg Chin, Communications director for the Miami-Dade Aviation Department confirmed that the flight was American Airlines flight 1182 from Guatemala city, according to a report by CNN.
As of Febrauary 2021, FAA data shows that about 78 percent of the 129 people that have attempted such a feat since 1947 died.
A former American Airlines pilot who had a person stowaway on a flight he was piloting, said there are many reasons it’s dangerous to stowaway on a flight in addition to the frigid temperatures.
“People lose consciousness because of lack of oxygen or hypothermia or any of those things, and when the gear comes back down, they fall out, they’re not wedged in properly, or don’t hold on to something properly, and they fall out of the airplane to their death usually, it’s a very tragic thing,” pilot Wayne Ziskal said.
A strategic security expert explained the risks associated with traveling in the landing gear area.
“It’s usual for these movements to be made by land, for example, on the borders with Mexico, but it’s very unusual that people try to do it by plane, precisely because it’s a very high risk. The whole area where the tires are kept is a very cold area. It’s very dangerous; I calculate that the temperatures are between +3 and -3 degrees Celsius,” Luis Chinchilla explained to the Guatemalan publication LaHora.gt.
“‘I imagine that the part where the landing gear goes does not have the same pressurization as the area where the passengers go. On airplanes, for example, the luggage area has certain conditions; however, they must also have a part of the compartments where they carry pets. The air is more tolerable there,” Chinchilla said.
Angel Leal, an immigration attorney, speculated that the man will be likely detained and possibly face an expedited deportation order unless he has a case to request asylum.
“He’ll be detained by the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection,” Leal explained. “And then at that point, if he’s in fact a person who’s trying to flee persecution and who wants to request asylum. He’ll be afforded the opportunity for a credible fear interview before an asylum officer, but more than likely he’ll be detained during that process.”
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