Security concerns remain as investigation continues into body found on airport runway


It’s been nearly a month since a body was found on the reef runway at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu.

Yet the state is still not providing any answers on how the man was able to get into a secure area.

The Hawaii Department of Transportation says it is working with federal agencies and the Honolulu Police Department to find out what happened, but the incident is once again raising security concerns.

A DOT spokesman emailed late Monday afternoon to say that the investigation is ongoing. KHON2 also reached out to officials from another airport where someone was able to get on a plane and fly to Maui.

We’ve learned that drastic improvements have been made since that incident.

In April 2014, a 15-year-old boy jumped a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport, sneaked into a wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines flight and arrived safely on Maui.

We reached out to officials with the San Jose airport and learned that it has put in some $15 million in improvements to increase security. Among the changes, the perimeter fence was raised from seven feet to 11 feet in certain areas, with a more secure type of fencing.

“The type of fencing that we chose is one-inch mesh that makes it very difficult for anyone to try to climb, because you can’t get your foot or your toe into such a small area,” explained Rosemary Barnes, spokeswoman for Mineta San Jose International Airport.

Barnes says airport officials worked with the FBI, FAA, TSA, and local law enforcement agencies. She adds that security cameras are good, but it’s even better to sync them with motion detectors.

“That allows our staff to be alerted to that, and then they can zero in on the incident location and then also dispatch someone to determine what happened in that specific area,” she said.

Barnes says airport staff also received more security training and patrols were increased in the perimeter areas. She adds that there have been no security breaches since.

Lawmakers are hoping improvements can be made here, but first, they want information from last month’s incident.

“I haven’t heard anything since my previous email and correspondence from the Department of Transportation,” said Sen. Will Espero, vice chair of the Senate Transportation Committee.

In a statement, a DOT spokesman says the perimeter is checked multiple times and access gates are staffed 24 hours a day.

Appropriate actions will be taken depending on the outcome of the investigation, he said.

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