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US Airways worker stows away in cargo compartment

PITTSBURGH (Reuters) - A US Airways mechanic stowed away on a flight to North Carolina from Florida, hiding in an unpressurized cargo compartment, police said on Wednesday.

The mechanic, who was not identified, proceeded to take a regular flight to Pittsburgh, where he was taken to a hospital for evaluation, they said.

US Airways discovered someone flew in the cargo compartment of the plane on Tuesday to Charlotte, North Carolina from Tampa, Florida, and determined it was the mechanic, who is based in Tampa, said Allegheny County, Pennsylvania Police Lt. Richard Mullen.

The airline said he may have mental health problems, Mullen said.

In Charlotte, the mechanic got out of the plane, bought an employee ticket in the terminal and flew to Pittsburgh as a passenger, he said.

The airline asked police to meet him at the gate because of "concerns over him wanting to hurt himself," he said. "He was no threat to anyone else... He had some suicidal ideologies."

The man was not arrested because "he did not commit a violation in our jurisdiction," he added.

US Airways said in a statement: "We had an alleged breach of security yesterday morning that involved one of our employees and we are working with the proper authorities to determine exactly what occurred."

The U.S. Transportation Security Administration said in a statement it was conducting "an investigation to determine whether a US Airways employee may have improperly used his airport credentials to access the aircraft and subsequently travel on a flight from Tampa to Charlotte."

The agency said the employee's airport access credentials had been revoked pending the outcome of the investigation.

(Reporting by Daniel Lovering, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Greg McCune)

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