A flight attendant has been fired after he was accused of stealing the identity of a boy who died in a car crash to start a new life in America.

Brazilian national Ricardo Cesar Guedes had worked on an airline for two decades after reportedly pretending to be William Ericson Ladd — a boy from Atlanta who died in a car crash at 4 years old — in order to secure documentation.

The 49-year-old even married his wife with the dead child's name, according to the local newspaper the Houston Chronicle.

He has been charged with providing a false statement on an application for a passport and false impersonation of a US citizen.

A criminal complaint filed in a Texas court said that Ladd had been tragically killed just one month before his 5th birthday in the accident in Washington State in 1979.

Guedes, meanwhile, is alleged to have started life in the US when he overstayed a tourist visa on a visit from Brazil in the mid-1990s.

He applied for a passport in the youngster's name in 1998 and settled down in Lake Houston, Texas, where he bought a home and a BMW, authorities say.

But it is reported the flight attendant only admitted his true identity when Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) agents tracked him down and interrogated him when he turned up at George Bush International Airport last year on what would have been Ladd's 47th birthday.

He reportedly told them: “I had a dream, and the dream is over. Now I have to face reality.”

Debra Lynn Hays, Ladd's mother, had provided the dates of her son's birth and death to special investigators from the DSS.

He had racked up years of experience as a flight attendant before being confronted, having worked on 40 flights for United Airlines in the year 2020.

The company announced Guedes had been fired shortly after the news went public.

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