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Teen-Aged Irish Stowaway Hospitalized

July 28, 1988

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ An Irish teen-ager with a history of running away from home stowed away on a U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer, and five sailors accused of helping her during 10 days at sea have been arrested, officials said Wednesday.

Police in Ireland identified the 16-year-old girl as Suzanne Twomey of Cork. She was hospitalized in satisfactory condition Wednesday after an illness delayed attempts to return her to Ireland.

The five sailors accused of helping her during the USS Conyngham’s trip were being held at the Norfolk Naval Base.

The teen-ager was found aboard the destroyer Saturday when it returned from its visit to Ireland. She was being taken to Atlanta for a return flight when she became ill.

After an emergency landing Tuesday night in Raleigh, N.C., the girl was taken to Rex Hospital, where was discharged Wednesday evening.

Charles Coble Jr., an agent with the Naval Investigative Service, said travel arrangements were being made for the girl. He would not elaborate and neither he nor hospital officials knew where she was spending Wednesday night.

The girl apparently slipped aboard the Conyngham while it was on a courtesy call in Cork Harbor. The ship held an open house during the visit, and that is apparently when the girl slipped aboard, officials said.

Lt. Cmdr. John W. Lloyd, an Atlantic Fleet spokesman in Norfolk, said the girl was discovered in a 2 1/2 -foot by 15-foot utility passage when the ship docked.

Five sailors who allegedly helped the girl are in the base brig, Lloyd said. Some of the sailors apparently brought food and water to the girl during the 10-day Atlantic crossing.

″No charges have yet been filed,″ said Lloyd.

Lloyd said the girl was expected to be released from Rex Hospital sometime Wednesday to continue her trip home. Irish police said they expected her to take a Thursday flight from Atlanta to Ireland.

According to the Naval Investigative Service, the girl, escorted by an NIS agent, was flown Tuesday from Norfolk to Washington, D.C. From there, she and her escort boarded a flight from Washington to Atlanta, where she was to catch a connecting flight to Ireland.

″I understand she became ill on the flight to Atlanta, that she complained to her escort of nausea and then went into convulsions,″ NIS Agent Charles Coble said. The plane made an unscheduled landing in Raleigh to drop her off.

A Dublin police spokesman, who would not give his name, said the girl was reported missing by her parents, John and Christine Twomey. The spokesman said the girl was the eldest of four children and had run away from home several times - once having to be returned home from Spain.

The parents declined to talk with the press.

The girl had originally told Navy officials that she was orphaned when she was 13 and always wanted to come to America to find work.

Archie Galloway, another Atlantic Fleet spokesman, said the girl was treated for dehydration Saturday at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital. He said a full physical found no health problems.

If charged and convicted, the five sailors face a maximum five years in prison and a fine of $2,000 for aiding an illegal entry into the United States, officials said.

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