Orlando TSA agent accused of spilling remains of man's grandfather

Published On: Jun 27 2012 11:51:44 AM EDT

Transportation Security Administration officials have conducted an initial review of an incident involving a TSA agent sifting through and spilling the human remains of a passenger's grandfather.

An Indianapolis man said a TSA agent at the Orlando International Airport spilled his grandfather's ashes during a security inspection.

"They opened up my bag, and I told them, 'Please, be careful. These are my grandpa's ashes,'" said John Gross said.

Gross said he was dividing up the ashes among his family members and that he clearly labeled it "Human Remains."

"So she opened it up. She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it," he said.

Gross said the security line kept moving as he frantically struggled to scoop up the ashes.

"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," he said.

Gross said he wants an apology from the TSA and an explanation of what happened.

"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," he said.

A TSA public affairs officer issued a statement that said the agency's review "concluded that the circumstances as described in some reports are inconsistent with what we believe transpired."

As to the agency's policy on screening human remains, the agent said, "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. It is a TSA policy that under no circumstance should a container holding remains be opened."