A man suffered humiliation and distress at the hands of an airport security agent when she insisted on opening a jar containing his grandfather’s remains and then dropped them on the floor.
John Gross, of Indianapolis, was trying to bring Mario Mark Marcaletti’s ashes home from Florida and had them in his bag in a tightly sealed jar clearly marked ‘Human Remains’.
The 91-year-old’s remains had been divided up among family members after he died in 2002 and Gross had been given a share by his uncle during his trip.
He was confronted by the TSA officer and explained what was in the container.
‘They opened up my bag, and I told them, “Please, be careful. These are my grandpa’s ashes,”‘ he told theindychannel.com.
‘She picked up the jar. She opened it up.
‘She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it.’
As a third of the jar’s contents fell out onto the floor Gross frantically tried to gather it back up, a line of passengers waiting behind him.
‘She didn’t apologize. She started laughing. 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.’
Gross later found out that TSA rules state that staff should not tamper with human remain containers under any circumstance.
Instead they are supposed to put them through an X-ray machine.
Nothing can be done to regain the ashes. But Gross said he wants an apology from the TSA and from the individual agent ‘who opened the jar and laughed at me’.
‘I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this,’ he said.
On the TSA website it states: ‘Passengers are allowed to carry a crematory container as part of their carry-on luggage, but the container must pass through the X-ray machine.
‘Out of respect to the deceased and their family and friends, under no circumstances will an officer open the container even if the passenger requests this be done.’