TSA agent spills grandfather’s ashes in confrontation with passenger

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:10 EDT
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TSA ashes via YouTube
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A TSA worker at an airport in Florida violated the agency’s policy when she opened a container containing the ashes of a passenger’s grandfather and spilled them on the terminal floor, according to Indianapolis, Indiana’s ABC affiliate station, WRTV Channel 6.

John Gross of Indianapolis was visiting relatives in Florida when an uncle, acting on the wishes of the family, gave Gross a portion of his grandfather’s ashes. Mario Mark Marcaletti came to the United States as an immigrant from Sicily and passed away in 2002 at the age of 91. Gross was presented with the ashes in a tightly sealed jar, marked “human remains,” which he assumed would warrant enough respect that he would be able to board his flight home unmolested.

He was wrong.

When he arrived at the TSA checkpoint, “They opened up my bag, and I told them, ‘Please, be careful. These are my grandpa’s ashes.’ She picked up the jar. She opened it up.”

The agent not only opened the sealed jar, but stirred the contents with her finger, allowing an estimated quarter to a third of the ashes to spill out on to the floor.

Gross frantically tried to scoop up as much of his grandfather’s remains as he could, “She didn’t apologize. She started laughing,” he said, “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.”

TSA policy states that crematory containers must pass through X-ray scanners, but the organization’s website indicates that containers holding human remains should never be opened under any circumstances by TSA personnel.

Gross said he wants an apology, both from the agent and the TSA. He told Channel 6, “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.”

Watch the clip, embedded via WRTV, below:

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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