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Man shipped from New York to Texas in crate

Charles D. McKinley, 25, of New York City is shown in the handout photo from the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.
Charles D. McKinley, 25, of New York City is shown in the handout photo from the Dallas County Sheriff's Office.

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Charles McKinley wanted to go from New York to Dallas, Texas, so he crated and shipped himself. CNN's Patty Davis reports (September 9)
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Federal officials are investigating how a man managed to hide inside a crate that was flown by a major cargo carrier from New York to Dallas, Texas.

Charles McKinley wanted to go to his father's house in Dallas and decided to "ship himself rather than pay for a ticket," said Transportation Security Administration spokeswoman Suzanne Luber.

McKinley secured himself in the crate, apparently with some help, along with his computer and some clothes.

The incident highlighted a potential hole in aviation security.

McKinley shipped himself through cargo carrier Kitty Hawk Inc., which said it was told by the shipping firm, Pilot Air Freight, that the crate was loaded with computer monitors.

The crate, marked as containing computer equipment, was picked up at a company called Metrotech in the Bronx, New York, and driven to John F. Kennedy International Airport, and then to Newark, New Jersey, where it was placed on a Kitty Hawk cargo plane, she said.

"The plane actually went to Buffalo. From Buffalo it went to Fort Wayne, Indiana. There was a change of planes onto another Kitty Hawk cargo plane, and he ended up at DFW [Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport]," Luber said.

He was then driven to the intended address, which was his father's house in De Soto, a suburb 14 miles south of Dallas.

Carl Smith, assistant chief of the De Soto Police Department, said that when the deliveryman went to remove the box from the truck he noticed a person inside.

Authorities believe Smith had moved something he had been using to cover himself, so the driver was able to see him through a slit in the crate.

"At that time, the young man kicked one side of the crate out, crawled out, got his box, and walked around to the back of the house," Smith said.

The driver contacted police.

McKinley is being held at the Dallas County Sheriff's Department, Smith said. Authorities have not released his age, but news reports said he is 25.

Luber said authorities detained McKinley on outstanding warrants for theft of a check and a traffic violation. The TSA is working with the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office to investigate and determine if there are any federal charges for this incident.

"We've made significant improvements in cargo security, but we do have more, more to go," Luber said. TSA teams have examined cargo carriers and the airport facilities they use to load packages "to determine strengths and weaknesses in cargo security," she said.

The TSA has a cargo security advisory committee that is expected to provide recommendations for additional security as early as October 1, she said.

"The bottom line is just like passenger security there's not just one single silver bullet," Luber said. "We're taking a layered approach.

"Should Congress ask us, we are ready to train cargo pilots as federal flight deck officers." Federal flight deck officers are armed with guns in the cockpit.

Richard Phillips, chairman and chief executive officer of Pilot Air Freight, said his company rigidly adhered to TSA procedures, keeping the crate off a passenger plane and placing no travelers at risk.

"It is unfortunate that one individual would choose to flaunt air regulations," he said.

A spokesman for Kitty Hawk Cargo added, "This is a very unusual incident."

CNN correspondent Patty Davis contributed to this report.

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