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Man Stows Away in Air Cargo Crate

September 10, 2003|From Associated Press

DALLAS — Charles D. McKinley had himself shipped from New York to Dallas in an airline cargo crate, startling his parents -- and a deliveryman -- when he broke out of the box outside their home.

"My husband asked him, 'Man, what are you doing in this crate?' He said he was coming home," his mother told a Dallas television station. Federal officials want to know how the stowaway bypassed airport security.

McKinley, 25, a shipping clerk from New York, was arrested and jailed on unrelated bad-check and traffic charges after his overnight odyssey. Federal officials are considering additional charges of stowing away on a plane.

In a jailhouse interview, McKinley told KXAS-TV that he made the trip because he was homesick. A friend thought he could save money by flying as cargo. McKinley said he took no food or water on the 15-hour journey, just a cellphone, which did not work.

"I'm sitting there thinking, 'Oh God, I don't know why I'm doing this,' " he said. "I'm sitting there thinking like any minute somebody will notice that there's somebody sitting inside this crate.... No one did."

Before setting out, McKinley filled out shipping instructions saying the crate held a computer and clothes. Authorities believe he had help from at least one co-worker at the warehouse where he works in New York when he loaded himself in the box.

The box was taken by truck from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport to New Jersey. Then it was loaded onto a pressurized, heated cargo plane operated by Kitty Hawk Cargo. On Saturday, Billy Ray Thomas, a driver for Pilot Air Freight, picked up the crate at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and delivered it to McKinley's parents' home in suburban DeSoto.

When Thomas went to unload the 350-pound crate from his truck, he saw a pair of eyes and thought there was a body inside. Then McKinley broke the box open, said Police Lt. Brian Windham.

The delivery driver called police.

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