“They go around your breast. They basically go under your butt. They touch things that are not appropriate and it’s really embarrassing,” Van Dyken-Rouen told ABC News.
Van Dyken-Rouen said she told the TSA agent who checked her that her wheelchair, hands and feet are normally checked for explosives. She said the agent then called for a supervisor who performed a full-body search, checking her breasts and other private parts in full view of other travelers.
“He said literally, ‘Every other airport is wrong and any other time you’ve flown through Denver and they did not do that, it’s wrong. I’m right,’” Van Dyken-Rouen said of the TSA agent.
Van Dyken-Rouen took to Instagram on Sunday to detail the incident, writing, “With the positive in my journey, there is also negative. Need to make changes for all in [wheelchairs].”
TSA issued a statement Monday apologizing for the incident.
"TSA works closely with the disability community to develop screening procedures that integrate the unique needs of those with disabilities or medical issues into the process. TSA reviews passenger complaints, and in this case determined that our officers did not follow correct screening protocols when Ms. Amy Van Dyken came through the security checkpoint at Denver International Airport (DEN) this weekend. TSA’s federal security director has reached out to Ms. Van Dyken. The officers involved are undergoing retraining, and TSA Denver is providing refresher training to all of its officers as well,” the statement read.
Van Dyken-Rouen said she accepts the TSA’s apology, as long as all disabled fliers get more respect.
“It’s really said,” she said. “I just want to be able to help other people who don’t have a voice, just fair treatment for everybody."
Van Dyken-Rouen, a former Olympic swimmer who has won six gold medals, severed her spinal cord in June 2014 when the ATV she was driving hit a curb and sent her flying over an embankment in Arizona.