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Airport screener 'roughs up' woman, 83, in wheelchair
An infuriated Denver woman has filed a complaint with the Transportation Security Administration after a security screener forced her 83-year-old mother to get out of her wheelchair and walk to a pre-flight screening area, despite doctor's orders not to stand and an orthopedic card saying she had a metal plate in her hip.
The incident at Denver International Airport occurred eight days ago when Sally Moon, her sister and a Frontier Airlines employee were transporting Bernice "Bea" Bogart to a special security screening area. Moon's sister, who did not have concourse clearance and the Frontier employee were left behind as Moon pushed her mother to the screening site.
Bogart, wheelchair bound since a 1999 fall that broke her hip and further disabled by breast cancer surgery in 1997 and a major stroke in 2004 that caused dementia, was under strict doctor's orders not to stand without assistance or her walker. She carried a special orthopedic card to alert airport security she had a metal plate in her hip.Moon had been told by Frontier and TSA staff that screeners would not require Bogart to leave her chair for the security check, so she turned to put her mother's carry-on luggage through the x-ray device. When she turned back, she discovered her mother had been picked out for further screening and was out of her chair, "hobbling" through a glass-walled corridor.
"There were no grab bars," Moon told the Rocky Mountain News. "What I could see really was her fingers trying to hang onto a little ledge."
Moon says she instinctively reached out to assist her mother, fearing another fall and another broken hip.
"Don't touch her!" Moon says the screener warned.
Moon attempted to tell the young screener, a woman in her mid-to-late 20s, that her mother was under doctor's orders not to stand without her four-wheeled walker, but the screener shot back, "You'd better change your attitude. Or do you want me to make it so you don't fly today?"
Bogart, who is also hard of hearing, was allowed to sit briefly, but the screener soon instructed her to stand again and lift her arms, according to Moon. She then reportedly lifted Bogart's arms because the elderly woman couldn't, due to her earlier breast cancer surgery.
Moon says she was told to sit across the room "or else" when she continued to protest.
After the "prolonged search," the pair was cleared to continue to their gate and Moon put her "shocked" mother on the flight to Tennessee for a month's visit with Bogart's youngest daughter.
An angry Moon attempted to complain to Denver's TSA management, but was told to make her complaint to the national office. Supervisors would not tell her the name of the screener who had made boarding her mother so difficult.
"I don't know if she thought my mom had a bomb in her Depends or what," Moon said.
While Moon is still angry and cynical that TSA will do anything about her complaint, a Denver TSA spokeswoman said the agency expects a high degree of professionalism from screeners and Moon's complaint would be investigated. TSA's Office of Civil Rights will soon issue a response, she said.
"When we receive complaints, we take them very seriously, we investigate them and we address any personnel issues as appropriate," she said.
Bogart, now in Nashville, says she doesn't want to see anyone get in trouble.
"They were all kind except for that one girl. I thought she was a little harsh," she said. "She wouldn't let my daughter help me. And I have a hard time standing very long at a time at all."
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