Apparently, a TSA Agent spilled someone's grandfather's ashes on the floor and then laughed about it.
(CNN) -- An Indiana man is demanding a direct apology from a Transportation Security Administration agent in Florida who, the man says, spilled his grandfather's ashes during an airport bag check and then laughed off the incident.
And John Gross is also demanding that the TSA release any security surveillance tapes of the incident, tapes that the federal agency said simply don't exist.
Gross, 30, was returning home from visiting family in Orlando, Florida, on June 19, carrying with him a portion of his grandfather's ashes that had been passed along by an uncle -- a "real sentimental kind of guy," said Gross -- when he approached TSA screeners. A female agent wearing blue latex gloves inspected the contents of his bag, says Gross, including the jar clearly labeled "Human Remains."
"I said, 'Please be careful, these are my grandpa's ashes,'" Gross told CNN Wednesday. But, he said, the agent proceeded to stick her finger in the jar then accidentally spilled its contents on the airport floor.
She then laughed, according to Gross, not an uproarious cackle, but a chuckle that he found offensive nonetheless.
"She thought it was funny," he said. "I wanted to smack her."
While not directly contradicting Gross, the TSA said it believes his sequence of events is incorrect.
"Our initial review concluded that the circumstances as described in some reports are inconsistent with what we believe transpired," an initial statement from the TSA said.
That pronouncement prompted Gross, who said he would otherwise be content to drop his contention, to once again assail the agency.
"I don't want this to continue," he said Wednesday in an interview with CNN, but "now I'm really heated because the TSA is coming back and saying there's inconsistencies in the reports."
The TSA statement added that "under no circumstances should a container holding remains be opened."
"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," its statement said.
TSA spokesman David Castelveter said Tuesday that there is no surveillance video relevant to the episode, and the agency followed that on Wednesday by adding that the security cameras in question are being upgraded.
Gross, however, said he believes the agency is concealing the truth.
"If they don't have any tapes, it obviously shows they are hiding something," he told CNN.
The situation calmed later Wednesday, after Gross said he received what he viewed as a "sincere" and "heartfelt" apology from a TSA administrator, but he was still bothered by the federal agency's public declaration that his story had "inconsistencies" with what the TSA said happened. And he still wanted "the apology from the person who did it ..."
As for the spilled ashes of his grandfather, Gross said he did the best he could to recover as much as possible.
"I couldn't get a broom and dust pan, but I picked up the bigger pieces on the ground and I put them in the jar," Gross said. "But not everything. I tried getting what I could but there was a long line behind me."
What I find amazing is that travelers expect people working for between minimum wage and $15.00 an hour to care about them, their stuff, or what they're thinking.
Most employed by the TSA are doing it for the peanut money, not some sense of duty or to get a perverted thrill. If they have that job it's because they can't find work doing something else.
The turn over for TSA workers is huge. Wonder why? Because the job sucks.
What happened to that man is terrible. The whole set up is invasive. This is world we live in now.
Actually, they start out at 12.85, and part time.
One person is rude and the guy holds the ENTIRE TSA responsible for it?
As I read the article, she stuck her gloved finger in the ashes and when she withdrew it, some ashes came with it and she flicked them off. It's not like she spilled an entire urn-full, so he's not really cleaning his grandfather off the floor.
She does owe him an apology to be sure, but IMO that's up to her. Some people are just going to be rude. I'd like an apology from the Tel Aviv airport employee who told my friend - who looks very Arabic, but isn't - when she lost her luggage that "we have waited 2000 years, you can wait a little longer for your luggage." Is it likely she's going to get one?
What the guy should have done was place the container of ashes in a padded packing container with a sticker on it reading "Ashes, human remains, these are sacred to me" and placed said 'package' in his regular luggage and that would have been it. I would never bring the ashes onto the plane itself in my carry-on. That's just stupid.
I had my luggage get lost and I thought I would never get it back. I was devastated because it had some things that were my late grandmothers in it. I didn't care about the rest of the stuff, it could be replaced. Those things from her could not. I got lucky and someone found my luggage at a different airport and sent it to me two months later. I haven't flown since then, but if I ever do (big if) things like that would be with me.
People stupidly bring with them anything from dildos to guns. And forget they have them.