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Autistic Teen Found After Wandering from Burbank Airport

Burbank Police Dept.(BURBANK, Calif.) -- Authorities in Southern California have found a 14-year-old autistic boy who wandered out of Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif.

The boy, Cameron James Smith, was found unharmed outside of a restaurant in West Hollywood, Calif., around 6 p.m. PT, according to the Burbank Police Department.

Cameron’s parents had brought him to the airport and made sure he boarded the plane, according to local news reports. The jet pulled from the gate, but then had to return because of a mechanical problem. All of the passengers, including Cameron, got off the plane.

He was seen on airport surveillance video after deplaning. The boy wandered out of the airport and boarded an airport parking lot shuttle in front of the terminal. He got off that shuttle at a nearby intersection.

Police had been searching for Cameron since noon PT.

Cameron qualified to be flying as an unaccompanied minor on his SkyWest commuter flight to Salt Lake City, Utah.

However, an aviation source told ABC News, Cameron’s parents did not pay a $100 unaccompanied minor fee, according to airline records. In addition, the source said, the airline was initially told Cameron was older than 14, which would have allowed him to travel alone, and the parents initially did not reveal Cameron was autistic.

The Skywest flight was a connecting flight for Delta Airlines. Under Delta policy, 14-year-olds traveling alone are considered unaccompanied minors. Parents must pay $100 per flight when the children are traveling alone. That is supposed to ensure that airline personnel are escorting them wherever they go.

Before Cameron was located, a SkyWest official released a written statement that did not address the issue of whether or not the boy was classified as an unaccompanied minor, saying only that officials were trying to find him.

“Our focus at this time is to support efforts to locate the missing passenger,” said Marissa Snow, SkyWest’s manager of corporate communications. “We have reached out to the family and are working with Delta and supporting local law enforcement’s efforts to help locate the missing passenger.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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