Washington: A 95-year-old cancer-stricken
woman was forced to undergo 45 minutes of intrusive pat-down
at a US airport, triggering an outrage on the treatment meted
out to her.
Lena Reppert was to say her final goodbyes to her
daughter before she made what would most likely be her last
flight to her native Michigan.
But when Reppert made it to the check-in line at the
Northwest Florida Regional Airport on June 18, Transportation
Security Association (TSA) agents singled her out because she
was in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs require other security
measures to be employed since they don`t go through metal
"So they brought my mom to the side, and two agents just
started patting her," Jean Weber, her daughter was quoted as
saying by FoxNews.com. "Eventually they found something that
appeared to be hard they said could be a concealed weapon."
She said two female agents wheeled her mom into a
private room where they performed a more thorough inspection,
and found that Reppert was wearing a Depend adult diaper.
After 45 minutes, the mother and daughter were given
two options: either don`t fly, or lose the Depend. The women
chose the latter.
Weber said she burst into tears during the ordeal.
"I ran with her to the bathroom and stripped her down,"
Weber recalled. "I got back to the line and just started
This is not the first time that the TSA`s pat-downs of
passengers have come under fire. Recently, outrage erupted
over a video-recorded pat-down of a six-year-old passenger
last April at New Orleans` airport.
Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar, who was clad
in a sari, was pulled out from an airport security line and
patted down by a TSA agent in Mississippi last year.
Reports of the incident of pat-down of Reppert by TSA
agents took hold in social media, with scores of comments on
the topic and reposts appearing hourly on Twitter yesterday.
Meanwhile, reacting to the reports, the TSA said it
stood by its security officials, CNN reported.
"While every person and item must be screened before
entering the secure boarding area, TSA works with passengers
to resolve security alarms in a respectful and sensitive
manner," it said, defending its agents` actions.
Last year, the US announced it was ramping up the use
of full-body scanning and pat-downs to stop nonmetallic
threats, including explosives, from getting on planes.
The goal is to head off attacks such as the one
allegedly attempted in Christmas 2009 by Nigerian Umar Farouk
AbdulMutallab, who allegedly had a bomb sewn into his
underwear on a flight from the Netherlands to Michigan.