A 26-year-old man from Guatemala was found alive in an aircraft’s landing gear shortly after the plane landed in Miami on Saturday, authorities said.
The unidentified man was evaluated by emergency medical services at the Miami International Airport before being taken to a hospital for medical assessment, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement to HuffPost.
“Persons are taking extreme risks when they try to conceal themselves in confined spaces such as an aircraft,” CBP said.
The flight, American Airlines flight 1182, landed just after 10 a.m. and “was met by law enforcement due to a security issue,” a spokesperson for American Airlines said in an email, declining to comment further on the matter.
Video posted online appears to show the man sitting on the tarmac after being apprehended by airport officials.
Flights between La Aurora International Airport in Guatemala City and Miami take nearly three hours.
Surviving such a precarious ride means that the stowaway had to avoid falling out, and also endured subzero temperatures and a lack of oxygen, which can lead to brain damage, hypoxia, hypothermia, cardiac arrest or failure, or severe neuromuscular complications.
“People lose consciousness because of lack of oxygen or hypothermia or any of those things,” former American Airlines pilot Wayne Ziskal told NBC Miami. “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.”
The vast majority of stowaways die during such attempts, though there have been documented survivors prior to Saturday’s incident, according to past assessments by the Federal Aviation Administration.