The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is now disputing claims that its agents asked a 95-year-old woman to remove her adult diaper after the story sparked national outrage.
The TSA has been discussing this story in the media for two days prior to denying the claim.
The incident occurred nearly 10 days ago at the Northwest Florida Regional Airport, where Jean Weber was traveling with her elderly mother, who is suffering from the final stages of leukemia.
Lena Reppert was traveling in a wheelchair and had received a blood transfusion to manage the flight to Michigan to visit family. The incident occurred while going through airport security. Reppert entered security in a wheelchair, which triggers a different security protocol, including pat-downs and swabbing for explosives.
Agents felt something “suspicious” on Reppert’s leg during the pat down. She was then taken into a private room for further inspection, where the officer told Weber that her mother’s adult diaper was soiled, which had prevented a complete pat down from being done. Weber claims that the officer asked for it to be removed, which they did in a restroom.
After defending its methods, TSA now disputes that an agent asked for the diaper to be removed. Lauren Gaches, a national TSA spokesperson released an official statement stating, “We have reviewed the circumstances involving this screening and determined that our officers acted professionally, according to proper procedure and did not require this passenger to remove an adult diaper.”
Weber argued that if she wanted to clear security she had no option but to remove her mother’s undergarment, for which she did not have a replacement.
The incident occurred on June 18 and Weber filed a complaint with the Department of Homeland Security soon after. On June 22, a TSA employee informed her that agents followed proper procedure during the search.
Sari Koshetz, a spokeswoman for the TSA in Miami, gave a statement to the local paper over the weekend that the “TSA cannot exempt any group from screening because we know from intelligence that there are terrorists out there that would then exploit that vulnerability.”
TSA practices have come under fire recently due to incidents with young children and special-needs adults. In response to these high-profile incidents, the TSA has issues apologies, retrained employees and made changes to the policy for patting down young children. Last week, the TSA announced that agents are instructed to make repeated attempts to screen young children without resorting to invasive pat-downs.
Weber plans to file additional complaints this week in the hope that the TSA will create less invasive search methods for the elderly.
By Lily J. Kosner for PeterGreenberg.com.
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