Indiana man: TSA agent spilled grandpa’s ashes

Posted at 2:35 PM, Jun 26, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-26 14:35:30-04

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - An Indiana man is demanding an apology after a TSA agent insisted on sifting through his grandfather's ashes, spilling a third of his remains onto the terminal floor.

John Gross told WRTV that he was attempting to pass through security at Orlando International Airport with the remains of his grandfather, Mario Mark Marcaletti, placing the ashes in a tightly sealed jar labeled "human remains."

Gross says when an agent began going through his bag, he asked her to be careful not to disturb his grandfather's ashes. He says he was shocked when the woman began opening the jar, and sifting through the ashes with her finger.

"She picked up the jar. She opened it up," Gross told WRTV. "I was told later on that she had no right to even open it, that they could have used other devices, like an X-ray machine. So she opened it up. She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it."

Gross estimates a third of his grandfather's ashes spilled to the floor, forcing him to scramble to sweep up what he could with his hands while a line built up behind him.

What he says was even more enraging, the agent's reaction.

"She didn't apologize," Gross said. "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 says he's also upset because he thinks the agent should have never opened the container and touched his grandfather's remains in the first place.

According to WRTV, TSA rules require a crematory container in carry-on baggage pass through the X-ray machine at the security checkpoint, adding the agency's website says human remains are to be opened under, “no circumstances.”

"I want an apology,” Gross said. “I want an apology from TSA. I want an apology from the lady who opened the jar and laughed at me. I want them to help me understand where they get off treating people like this."