Author Topic: Lost or Running Away?  (Read 1207 times)

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Offline cmack

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Lost or Running Away?
« on: January 05, 2012, 06:42:39 PM » ... 0f31a.html

Phoenix teen says he ended up in St. Louis accidentally, got little help

By Jonah Newman

It seems crystal clear that Erik McBee got on a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to Tulsa, Okla., that departed at 10:15 a.m. Dec. 28.

From there, things get a bit fuzzy.

As they told Phoenix TV station KPHO earlier, the 15-year-old and his mother told the Post-Dispatch on Wednesday that on the flight that was supposed to take him to a boarding school, Erik popped on some headphones, fell asleep ... and woke up in St. Louis.

Erik said he slept through the landing in Oklahoma, the 40 minutes the plane spent on the ground there and through the takeoff as the plane continued on its way to St. Louis.

Not sure where to go after landing in St. Louis, Erik said he sought help from a man in a yellow uniform just outside the terminal at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and others after he left the airport and wandered the area on foot.

"I was just trying to find a city where people would actually help me," he said.

Little of what Erik and his mother told the Post-Dispatch could be verified. What can be checked leaves more questions than answers.

Erik had a ticket to Tulsa, Southwest spokeswoman Ashley Dillon said. Passengers Erik's age can fly alone on Southwest without being shepherded by airline personnel.

Once the plane landed in Tulsa and passengers got off, the flight crew did a routine head count to make sure the number on board matched the number of people who were supposed to be aboard continuing on to St. Louis and, after that, New Orleans.

Erik said he snoozed in his seat through this part, but Southwest said somehow the count didn't show an extra person on board, and off the plane went to St. Louis. The airline is investigating what might have happened with the count.

When he didn't arrive in Tulsa, a teacher who was supposed to be meeting Erik to take him to a school he attends there approached a Southwest representative and then called his family, Keena McBee, Erik's mother, said.

From there, "hundreds of calls were made" to try to locate the boy, McBee said.

Erik said his various efforts to get help — from the uniformed man outside the airport, from 911, at a Bridgeton police station — were fruitless.

Southwest said it had no record that Erik approached any airline agent that afternoon.

Jeff Lea, a Lambert spokesman, said airport police started looking for Erik after the teenager's grandmother contacted them about 9:30 a.m. Dec. 29.

Relatives had also called Southwest, which contacted authorities in St. Louis, Dillon said.

"We did everything we could to locate him right away," she said.

Later that afternoon, Erik said, a good Samaritan dropped him off at a Florissant police station. Officers there called Erik's family and took him back to the airport, police spokesman Sgt. Kevin Boschert said.

Erik said a Florissant officer accompanied him until he was safely seated on a Phoenix-bound plane. The airline flew Erik home at no charge, Dillon said.

Erik plans to take another shot at getting back to his school next week. His mother said this time she will drive him.

Read more: ... z1id71Sq5P


It sounds to me that Erik didn't want to go to his boarding school in Oklahoma. Maybe he hid out on the plane or slumped in his seat to avoid the flight attendants. The airport has no record of him approaching anyone in St Louis about the matter. Was this a poorly executed attempt to avoid being sent back to a program?

I think there are some regular boarding schools in Oklahoma for Native Americans, but I wasn't able to find any programs there. Is anyone aware of any BM facilities in the Tulsa Oklahoma area?
« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 12:55:43 AM by cmack »

Offline cmack

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Re: Lost or Running Away?
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2012, 06:49:33 PM »
I didn't look hard enough. Teen Challenge has a boys program in the area.

Brush Creek Youth Ranch is a 915-acre working ranch in beautiful Northeastern Oklahoma. Our facility is a 12-15 month residential program licensed with the State of Oklahoma and accredited with Teen Challenge USA. New Life School is our private, accredited, year round school that the boys attend while at Brush Creek. Our program offers a very structured environment to help foster growth in each of our student’s lives.

Brush Creek Youth Ranch uses a level system to help teach the students appreciation, gratitude, responsibility, submission to authority, self-control, leadership, time-management, and a strong work ethic. The first levels are very controlled but as the students improve and progress, they are awarded higher levels. The higher levels allow for more privileges, freedom, and responsibilities.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cmack

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Re: Lost or Running Away?
« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2012, 07:00:08 PM »
Yeah, this sounds like he was being sent back to a program. No money or cell phone. ... wrong-stop

Missing Phoenix teenager flying Southwest fails to get off plane, gets off at wrong stop

By Kathleen Berger

St. Louis (KSDK) - A Phoenix teenager got lost after arriving in St. Louis by plane when he was supposed to be in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The15-year-old boy was flying alone on Southwest Airlines from Phoenix to Tulsa, but somehow ended up lost in Florissant, Missouri.

Erik McBee is home now in Arizona, but last Wednesday he said he fell asleep on the plane, missing his stop in Tulsa. He said he woke up confused,without money and a cell phone, and apparently without the insight to ask Southwest Airlines employees for help.

"I go to sleep. Just put my headphones in and fall asleep," said Erik.

Typical for many airline passengers, except McBee said he didn't wake up when his plane got to his destination.

Instead, he said he slept through the 40 minute layover, slept through the Southwest flight's take-off for Lambert Airport, and its landing. He got off the plane in St. Louis, and walked off. Somewhere in the terminal, Erik said he asked airport police for help.

"I saw one of the security guys, so I talked to him and told him my situation, and he said he couldn't do anything," said Erik.

So Erik left the airport on foot, walking aimlessly in the direction of Florissant. Because he didn't have a cell phone or money, Erik said he just walked off. All the while, his family was panicked because he never arrived in Tulsa.

His mother, Keena McBee, said, "Nobody could give me an answer. I called Southwest Airlines, they said I had to talk to customer relations the next morning."

Missing now for almost a full day, December 28th through the 29th, all Southwest Airlines could tell the family is what they told KSDK: the head count from Tulsa to St. Louis was accurate, so they had no indication that Erik was on the flight.

So the morning of the 29th, the family called Lambert Airport. And sure enough, Erik was seen leaving the airport on airport surveillance.

"He left security and left the building, and there's no information he sought any assistance after he got off that flight," said Lambert International Airport Spokesperson Jeff Lea.

Missing for more than 24 hours, Lambert got a call from the Florissant Police Department. Police say a couple of women found him in Florissant. They took him to the police station where police called his family.

"Florissant P.D. and Airport P.D. came in contact at that time, made arrangements to bring the young man back to airport," said Lea.

Upon further investigation, the airport said none of their officers recall a teenager asking for help.

Southwest said none of their employees were approached by Erik.

About that accurate head count: a Southwest spokesperson said it's possible someone got off the plane and re-boarded after the count.

Because Erik is 15, Southwest does not have a service available for flight attendants to watch over him. That's only for children ages 5 to 12.

« Last Edit: January 06, 2012, 12:54:52 AM by cmack »

Offline cmack

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Re: Lost or Running Away?
« Reply #3 on: January 05, 2012, 07:07:40 PM »
There's a Phoenix TV News interview with Erik and his mother and grandmother at this link: ... 83520.html

Both of these women seem to think it's the airline's job to babysit their 15 year-old kid. Why didn't he have a cell phone and money?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cmack

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Re: Lost or Running Away?
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2012, 08:17:24 PM »
The story of another boy, Cameron James Smith, who didn't want to go back to his program:

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »