Details emerge in case of 9-year-old stowaway

9:25 AM, Oct 12, 2013   |    comments
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  • MINNEAPOLIS - Hennepin County Social Services has filed a petition to intervene in the case of a 9-year-old boy that snuck onto a plane from Minneapolis to Las Vegas. 

    In Friday's petition, Hennepin County Human Services and the Public Health Department say the child needs protection or services because he's a runaway and committed a delinquent act before age 10. 

    The boy slipped past airport security and a gate agent last week and onto a Delta Air Lines flight. He's currently with Las Vegas Child Protection. 

    A hearing to assess whether he needs protection will be held after he returns to Minnesota. That's not been scheduled. 

    According to Hennepin County's website, child protection could involve a host of services, including removing a child from a home or appointing a social worker to the family. 

    The petition lays out several incidents where the boy ran away from his family. 

    In September, staff at the Midtown YWCA found the boy swimming alone in when the facility was closing, the next day, the boy's mother notified Target security after he disappeared while shopping at the downtown Minneapolis location, according to the petition. 

    Documents allege the boy was "gone for two to three days" in July. 

    The boy's mother said her son was suspended from school for "aggressive behavior" and had a "tendency to spend the night at people's houses without permission." 

    His mother told authorities he has a therapist and "declined community based family assessment services," according to the petition. 

    But things escalated a couple days before he hopped onto a plane. 

    He allegedly stole a large delivery truck, driving on "I-35 to south Minneapolis and eventually Edina, damaging other vehicles." 

    Police released him back to his mother. 

    "We see kids who run and who run often," said Dan Pfarr, Executive Director of The Bridge for Youth

    The Bridge for Youth is one of the few organizations in the area that helps children 10 to 17 years old. 

    "Kids do run away, 1,000 of them we serve at the Bridge. The average age is 14 years old," he said. 

    There are a lot of reasons why children run away, but the most common at the Bridge for Youth is a family conflict, says Pfarr.

    While The Bridge is open 24/7 everyday, Pfarr believes the general public would be surprised to hear how difficult it can be to find help.

    "I've tried everything, that's the most common phrase we hear," he said.

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