Video of TSA agents searching a 96-year-old woman in wheelchair goes viral, sparks outrage
A video of Transport Security (TSA) agents patting down a 96-year-old woman in a wheelchair at the Dulles Airport in Washington has gone viral as people expressed outrage over the incident. The disturbing clip has already been viewed nearly 9 million times.
The woman's daughter, Jeanne Clarkson, can be heard criticizing the security agents in the clip saying: "What the hell do you think she's going to do? Set off a shoe bomb?"
Clarkson recounted the entire incident, while talking to CBS News, and said: "I was just shocked. I've traveled with her before, I've been in a wheelchair myself unable to walk through the machines and I've never had that kind of a pat-down ever. I was just shocked. I couldn't believe they were doing this to my 96-year-old mother."
"It was just shock, and frustration because they would not talk to me. I felt helpless," she added.
Clarkson said that she was traveling with her fiancé and Evelyn LaBrier back home to Anderson in Indiana after visiting her son in Maryland when the incident occurred.
The TSA screener at the airport security check was polite and explained what was happening during the search, which included a pat-down of the 96-year-old's chest and pelvis region, according to CBS News.
Clarkson began to shoot the video when she grew frustrated with the process and was concerned over what was happening at the security check.
The clip shows a TSA officer stepping in front of Clarkson's cell phone camera and blocking her view as her mother's search process began. "It was just like, how can they get away with this?" Clarkson said.
As viewers of the viral video expressed outrage at the treatment of the old lady, the Washington Dulles Airport released a statement on its Facebook page.
"Many of you have reached out to us to express concern over a video of a security screening taking place at Dulles International Airport. Security screening at our checkpoints is directed and conducted by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). We have shared customer comments with the TSA for their immediate review and appropriate action," the statement said.
The TSA also released a statement to CNS News and said that the agency "is committed to ensuring the security of travelers, while treating all passengers with dignity and respect. In this instance, the TSA officer provided advisements during the pat-down and was extremely polite. The passenger was very cooperative and gave no indication that she was agitated or in discomfort. She received a pat-down and was cleared for her flight."
Clarkson, however, said that her mother did not know what to say at the moment and was so scared by the incident that she does not want to fly again.
"She didn't know what to say. She does not want to fly again ever. She didn't know what they were looking for. She was scared. She was just following directions. She said she didn't know what to do," Clarkson said.
A spokesperson from TSA, in the agency's defense, says that the screener followed routine procedure and also showed a two-minute video which explained what a flyer on a wheelchair can expect during the pat-down. However, the pat-down process in the video lasts for nearly 15 seconds but LaBrier's screening went on for over 6 minutes.
Clarkson said that her mother still asks her "why did they do that to me?" while no one from the TSA has contacted the family directly, according to reports.