Ashes Spilled After TSA Confrontation

Jun 26, 2012 11:36am

A man carrying his grandfather’s ashes home from Florida’s Orlando airport is furious after a confrontation with a Transportation Security Administration ended with the deceased man’s ashes spilled on the airport floor.

John Gross was leaving Florida with the remains of his grandfather  in a tightly sealed jar marked “Human Remains, ” ABC Indianapolis  affiliate RTV6 reported.

 

“They opened up my bag, and I told them, ‘Please, be careful. These are my grandpa’s ashes,’” Gross told the station. “She picked up the jar. She opened it up.”

Gross said the TSA agent used her finger to sift through the ashes and accidentally spilled it.  He said one-third to one-half of the ashes spilled and that the agent laughed as he tried to gather what he could from the floor.

“She didn’t apologize. She started laughing. I was on my hands and knees picking up bone fragments. I couldn’t pick up all, everything that was lost. I mean, there was a long line behind me.”

With regard to the transportation of human remains, the TSA web site reads, “Passengers are allowed to carry a crematory container as part of their carry-on luggage, but the container must pass through the X-ray machine.

Out of respect to the deceased and their family and friends, under no circumstances will an officer open the container even if the passenger requests this be done. Documentation from the funeral home is not sufficient to carry a crematory container through security and onto a plane without screening.”

The web site also states it may be possible to transport the remains as checked baggage, depending on the air carrier.

“I want an apology,” said Gross. “I want an apology from TSA. I want an apology from the lady who opened the jar and laughed at me. I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this.”

TSA did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

UPDATE: 4:30 p.m. EDT

The TSA sent the following statement to ABC News:

“TSA recognizes the importance of screening human remains with utmost respect and dignity while remaining vigilant of our security mission to protect the traveling public.  It is a TSA policy that under no circumstance should a container holding  remains be opened. We have been unable to reach the family to learn more about their perspective on the incident, however, our initial review concluded that the circumstances as described in some reports are inconsistent with what we believe transpired.”

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