By Jesse Byrnes - 07/31/14 02:41 PM EDT
Top Air Force officials on Wednesday admitted a serious lapse in security and launched an investigation following the death of a teenage stowaway on a U.S. cargo plane in Germany.
"Something fell through the cracks that this boy was able to gain access to the aircraft," Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said, according to The Associated Press.
The boy’s body was found Sunday at Ramstein Air Base in Germany in the wheel well of a military plane. The plane, operated by U.S. Africa Command, had returned from an eight-day trip to Africa. Officials believe the boy got on the plane while it was on an airfield in Mali.
The boy, whose identity and nationality have not been disclosed, died of asphyxiation, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said, according to the AP.
A fuselage panel was removed to reach the teen's body, which was found above one of the C130J's wheel well, Walsh added.
"How he got in there is a huge question mark," he said.