We've all dealt with TSA agents at the airport, but one may have taken her privileges far beyond their reach when she allegedly spilled a passenger’s late grandfather’s remains on the terminal floor and laughed about it.
John Gross, an Indianapolis resident, was leaving Florida with the ashes of his grandfather -- Mario Mark Marcaletti, a Sicilian immigrant who worked for the Penn Central Railroad in central Indiana -- in a jar labeled “Human Remains.”
Thinking that he wouldn't be hassled, Gross attempted to proceed through the security checkpoint, only to be stopped by a TSA agent who inquired about his parcel, he said.
“They opened up my bag, and I told them, ‘Please, be careful. These are my grandpa’s ashes,’” Gross told HLN affiliate RTV6. “She picked up the jar. She opened it up.”
The TSA agent then proceeded to use her finger to sift through the remains, only for the unthinkable to occur, he said.
“She accidentally spilled it,” Gross said.
According to Gross, about a quarter to a third of the jar’s contents spilled on the floor, prompting him to frantically attempt to gather as much of his grandfather’s remains as possible.
While Gross was on his hands and knees, the TSA agent refused to apologize and somehow found the predicament amusing, he said.
“She didn’t apologize. She started laughing,” Gross said. “I couldn’t pick up all, everything that was lost. I mean, there was a long line behind me.”
According to TSA rules, a crematory container in a carry-on bag must pass through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint. However, the agency’s website goes on to say that human remains are to be opened "under no circumstances.”
Though clearly upset by the event, Gross wants nothing more than an apology.
“I want an apology from TSA. I want an apology from the lady who opened the jar and laughed at me,” Gross said. “I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this.”
David Castelveter, Director of External Communications at the TSA, said in a statement to HLN that the "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."
Castelveter added, "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."