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TSA Agent Spills Ashes Of Traveler's Grandfather

Policy Says Human Remains Are Never To Be Opened

A man traveling from Florida to Indianapolis with his grandfather's ashes is demanding an apology from TSA after a screener spilled some of the remains on the floor.

Indianapolis resident John Gross had traveled to Florida to bring his grandfather's cremated remains back to Indiana, where he planned to distribute them among family members. The ashes were in a tightly-sealed jar marked "Human Remains," according to multiple media sources including television stations WTHR in Indianapolis and WKMG in Orlando.

While TSA policy strictly prohibits screeners from opening containers of human remains brought to security in carry-on baggage, and specifies the use of the X-ray machine to screen such items, the screener at Orlando International Airport reportedly opened the jar and began sifting through the ashes with her finger. Then, she accidentally spilled the ashes onto the floor in the security area.

Gross says that as much as a third of his grandfather's ashes wound up on the floor, along with some bone fragments. He said he was frantically trying to collect as much of the spilled ashes as he could while the line behind him stalled. Rather than offering assistance, Gross said the screener "laughed" at him as he scrambled to collect the ashes.

Gross has demanded an apology from TSA, and specifically from the woman screener in Orlando. In a statement, TSA said the agency "recognizes the importance of treating human remains with respect and dignity, including those accompanying the remains. For that reason, we use a variety of techniques in the screening process to ensure the safety of all travelers. Under TSA policy, under no circumstance would the container holding the remains be opened. We are looking further into this complaint."

FMI: www.tsa.gov

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