A stowaway fell from the undercarriage of a Kenya Airways plane as it approached Heathrow Airport and landed in a London garden on Sunday, police and airline officials have confirmed. A stowaway is a person who secretly boards a vehicle, such as a ship or an aircraft, in order to travel without paying and without being detected.
The flight in question originated in Nairobi, Kenya, and was bound for London, according to Kenya Airways, which issued a statement addressing the discovery.
“The incident has been treated as a sudden death and is now a police matter. The police have already been in contact with the Kenya High Commission to help identify and name the person,” the airline said in the statement.
The owner of the house told the press that the man landed face down on the property, narrowly missing a lodger who was sunbathing in the garden at the time.
“It was horrific,” she said. “We heard a loud bang. I thought it was from the building work we are having done…my husband went to look and saw the body lying in the middle of the lawn.”
“I heard a ‘whomp,’” a neighbour said. “He had all of his clothes on and everything. I had a closer look and saw there was blood all over the walls of the garden.”
Authorities say they discovered a bag, water and food in the plane’s landing gear compartment, suggesting the man may have hid himself there and fallen out mid-flight. While their investigation is ongoing, police said the death is not being treated as suspicious.
In September of 2012, a 30-year-old stowaway from Mozambique fell to his death under similar circumstances, from a London-bound flight from Angola.
In 2015, a stowaway on a British Airways plane from Johannesburg also fell on a roof during the jet’s approach to Heathrow. A second man who was hiding in the undercarriage of the plane was hospitalized with injuries.
In a dare-devil attempt to travel abroad some have attempted to travel undetected on a plane by hiding in its wheel well. Most don’t survive. This issue of stowaways making it aboard flights has raised questions about airport security in many African countries.