The new year has brought progress in the treatment of the young stowaway who made national headlines when he hid on a flight from Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to Las Vegas last fall.
According to the Star Tribune, the boy turned 10 last month. He's been in protective custody since October, and staying at a youth facility.
The judge who presided in Friday's Hennepin County hearing said the boy may be able to rejoin his family in March.
"I'm encouraged by all the reports," said Judge Joseph Klein. He also complimented the boy's parents for being engaged and supportive.
They and the county will continue to work together under terms of a Children in Need of Protective Services order.
The boy's mother, who has legal custody, testified that he is doing better emotionally and behaviorally.
Assistant County Attorney Cory Carlson testified that the boy is doing better in placement, and having more positive interactions with his family. Carlson asked the judge to increase visitation time and prepare a plan for the boy's probably return to his family by mid-March, when the next hearing is scheduled.
WCCO reported that at the previous hearing in December, the parties agreed the boy "still had some struggles."
On Oct. 3, 2013, the boy managed to get through security checkpoints at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and then slip by gate officials onto the Delta flight. The flight crew became suspicious
KARE 11 reported that it wasn’t his first run in with security officials at the airport. Sources told KARE 11 that the boy had been stopped the previous day by a security official at checkpoint 4, while hauling a suitcase.
The troubled boy first went to court in Nevada, where a judge said that in cases like this, children are typically transported back to their home states for further proceedings.
The boy’s unidentified father made a tearful plea for help at a press conference , saying that the boy was out of control and had become too much for him to handle. The father has said he loves his son and is not giving up on him. “He’s not a terrorist. He’s a 9-year-old child,” the father said. KSTP has more background on the boy’s troubled past.
The boy’s father admitted to struggling with the boy’s out-of-control behavior and claims he had asked for help handling his son.
“How would you let a 9-year-old child go through security check without stopping him and questioning him? How can that be?” he said.
The Transportation Security Administration and Delta Airlines continue to look into how the boy made it through multiple checkpoints unchaperoned and without a boarding pass. The TSA is also reviewing whether checkpoint changes are needed following the incident.
“I put it more on Delta than the TSA,” Terry Trippler, owner of ThePlaneRules.com, told the Star Tribune in a previous report. “The way I look at it is, ‘Delta, this is a person getting on your flight. You make sure they’re all there.’”
The boy, who had been suspended from school because of aggressive behavior, had a history of leaving home without telling his parents where he was going.
The next hearing is scheduled for March 19.